Activity Introduction

cc-primary13-heroQuick summary: During this lesson students use what they have learnt about traditional symbols in Indigenous artworks to create a dot painting. Students begin by revisiting the idea of using symbols to describe a feature of the landscape. They then read the book Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli to help them understand the role of hearts, minds and imagination in creating artworks. Students then explore the Indigenous art form of dot painting and create their own dot painting based on a symbol they created. Finally, students reflect upon how we can learn about caring for our environment from Australian Indigenous cultures. The opportunity to create an exhibition featuring student artwork is included as a Take It Further activity.

NOTE: This lesson links to the Outdoor Learning Year 1 & 2 ‘Story of Country’ Lesson, which needs to be completed prior to this lesson.

This lesson is designed to be taught outside. It contains all the tools required for students to reap the benefits of being outdoors while learning the outcomes of the Australian Curriculum. By spending time outdoors and connecting to nature, students are more likely to care for and conserve nature as adults.


Essential questions:

  • How can artworks tell a story?
  • What techniques can we use to create traditional designs?
  • How can we use art to inform or inspire others?
  • What are the mental, physical and academic benefits of completing classroom activities outside?

21st century skills:

sampling areas skills cc

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Visual Arts Foundation to Year 2

  • Explore ideas, experiences, observations and imagination to create visual artworks and design, including considering ideas in artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists (ACAVAM106)
  • Use and experiment with different materials, techniques, technologies and processes to make artworks (ACAVAM107)
  • Create and display artworks to communicate ideas to an audience (ACAVAM108)

Syllabus outcomes: VAS1.1, VAS1.2.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Intercultural Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: 

Relevant parts of Foundation to Year 2 Visual Arts achievement standards: Students describe artworks they make and view and where and why artworks are made and presented. They make artworks in different forms to express their ideas, observations and imagination, using different techniques and processes.

Topic: Outdoor Learning, Biodiversity.

Unit of work: Outdoor Learning Unit.

Time required: 60 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – the teacher reviews students’ prior knowledge, demonstrates artistic techniques, assists students, and facilitates discussions and the future implementation of students’ ideas.

Resources required: Device capable of taking photos and video/audio recording, device capable of showing a short YouTube clip, Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli, paint, paintbrushes/dotting tools, cloths, paint palettes, clipboards, scrap paper, easel and art paper, workbooks to write and draw in. Indigenous Symbols – With Labels. Compass Image. Dreaming, Dreamtime and Aboriginal Art – Teacher Content Information.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital photography and digital sharing capabilities, QR codes, audio-visual recordings.

Keywords: Sustainability, nature, painting, dot, Indigenous, art, country, traditional, gallery, exhibition, QR code, audio-visual, outdoor learning.

Cool Australia would like to thank The Albert George & Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust – managed by Equity Trustees.

Youngman Trust Logo

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

cc-primary9-heroTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students understand how symbols can be used as a form of language. They recognise the ways that Australian Indigenous cultures use symbols to tell stories about Country and their interaction with it. They explore the medium of dot paintings by Indigenous artists, and understand some of the technical challenges in creating these types of paintings. Finally, students recognise the lessons we can learn from Indigenous cultures about living sustainably.

Note: This lesson links to the Outdoor Learning Year 1 & 2 ‘Story of Country’ Lesson, which needs to be completed prior to this lesson.

Outdoor learning information:

Outdoor Learning Series:


To help guide teachers through suggested activities in this lesson, we have developed a series of ico

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