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Craft Around the World Series Australia/Oceania: Aboriginal Dot Painting


May 27, 2021 - <>

Enjoy learning how to make simple crafts from six of the seven continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, and South America.


Introduce youth to some simple cultural traditional crafts from around the world. Journey around the continents, learning how to make simple crafts and having fun creating.


  • Learn the cultural history and origins of the craft.
  • Inspire global exploration.
  • Develop fine motor skills in painting.
  • Increase cultural awareness and creativity.

Education Standards:

  • Understand the visual arts in relation to history and culture.
  • Apply geometric methods to solve design problems.

Experiential Learning:

  • Create a design with dots of paint.

Encourage thought and discussion with these questions:

What happened? What’s important? So what? Now what?

Audience:  Grades K-12


Australia/Oceania is the smallest continent. There are 14 countries within Oceania, with Australia (both a country and a continent), the largest; and Nauru, the smallest.


The country of Australia is one-third desert, part of what is known as the outback.

After starting in the United States in 1902, the 4-H program spread around the world. In 1928, 4-H Junior Farmers Clubs began in New South Wales, Australia. The West Australia 4-H Junior Farmers’ Clubs started in 1935 (National 4-H History Preservation Team, n.d.). A 1957 document 4-H Around the World : Extension Circular 0-19-2 listed the country of Australia 4-H Junior Farmers’ membership at 21,232 (University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 1957).


Papunya Tula Art Dot paintings began as a movement in the Aboriginal community of Papunya in central Australia during the 1970s. The simple dot style of acrylics on board and canvas represents stories of the people’s past as well as has sacred significance (National Gallery of Australia, 2018). The paintings include symbols of concentric circles, U-shapes, and lines. These symbols and the paintings themselves represent the artist’s “Dreaming” places (National Museum Australia, 2021).

TIME: 30-45 minutes or multiple days depending upon the interest to learn more


  • Plastic table covers
  • Acrylic paints (recommend primary colors of red, yellow, blue – plus white and black)
  • Paint trays
  • Cups for water
  • Wipes or paper towels
  • Water
  • Watercolor paper, cardstock, canvas, wood, or cardboard
  • Dot painting tools (paintbrushes, wooden dowels of various sizes, chopsticks, circle sponge tools, toothpicks, or others)
  • Pencils
  • Samples (optional)


View this instructional video to guide you in creating your dot paintings:

PROCEDURE: How to make Aboriginal dot paintings

  1. Get ideas from dot painting story designs inspired by nature or creation. Choose any theme that motivates you.
  2. Find a pattern or draw your own on the surface to be painted upon.
  3. Practice on a piece of scrap paper, making dots dipped in paint with your chosen dot painting tools.
  4. Use a combination of brush strokes and various sizes of dots as done in Aboriginal dot paintings.
  5. After you’re satisfied practicing, enjoy creating your dot painting on your chosen surface.

Art and Science – Be creative with your design. Experiment with different color of paints, try different types of dot size tools and different color layering techniques. Ask questions and make discoveries!

Reflection Questions: What surprised you and why? When were you the most creative, and why do you think that is? What made you curious today? What can you do with what you learned today?



National 4-H History Preservation Team. (n.d.). National 4-H history preservation program.

National Gallery of Australia. (2021). Early western desert paintings 1971-1974.

National Museum Australia (2021). Papunya collection.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln. (1957). 4-H around the world: Extension circular 0-19-2. Nebraska 4-H clubs: Historical materials and publications. 30.



The activity was developed by Michigan State University Extension Educator Janis Brinn in 2020. It was updated in 2021.



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