Aboriginal Studies Hands-on Session Teachers Notes

The Aboriginal Studies Hands-on Session is designed to introduce students to the lifestyle of Aboriginal people prior to European contact. The room has a number of activity centres which offer students the unique opportunity to handle real artefacts and learn about the lifestyles of our Indigenous population prior to European contact. They can try their hand at cave painting, play a digeridoo, grind seeds for making damper and learn how to use a fire stick.

Culture Space Image 1

Laura McBride © Australian Museum

Before Your Visit

Pre-visit activities

To make the most of your visit to the exhibition we recommend that you prepare your students beforehand by:

  • introducing concepts related to men's gear, women's gear, music and dance, Aboriginal technology and art and Aboriginal Australia today. 
  • providing a context for the excursion to the Museum including the reasons for visiting the Museum, the tasks to be completed and the expected outcomes.

Syllabus links

Activities link to the following NSW Science and Technology K-6 syllabus outcomes:

  • Content Strands - Products and Services (PS)
  • Earth and its Surroundings (ES)
  • Learning Processes - Investigating (INV)

Activities link to the following NSW Human Society and Its Environment K-6 syllabus outcomes:

  • Change and Continuity (CC) - Significant Events and People
  • Cultures (CU) - Identities, Cultural Diversity
  • Environments (EN) - Relationships with Places
  • Social Systems and Structures (SS) - Resource Systems 

At the Australian Museum

Session structure

The session begins with an introduction by a Museum Education Officer (Indigenous educators are available). Students then break into small groups and rotate around the various activities. The session closes with a video of a Dreaming story.

Each session lasts approximately one hour and adult involvement is warmly welcomed. The Museum allows one adult free admission for every four children of primary age. We encourage you to take advantage of this generous ratio as our research demonstrates the learning experience of your students is greatly enhanced when working in small groups with an adult.

Student activities focus on the themes of:

  • Lifestyle: Men were the hunters, hunting large animals such as kangaroo and emu. Women and children were the gatherers, with women collecting over 75% of the food.
  • Mens Gear: A vast array of tools and weapons used by men, as the hunters, are available to observe and investigate including spears, clubs, stone tools, axes, cores and flakes, boomerangs and grinding stones.
  • womens gear: Equipment such as coolamons, song and dance boards, digging sticks, dilly bags and head pads are available to explore.
  • Music and dance: Students can make thier own music using didgeridoos and clap sticks.
  • Technology: Woomeras - used to throw spears further (extension of the arm), plant materials as glue, stone tools for many different purposes and fire sticks. These and more are available to explore.
  • Art: Students can create their own Aboriginal art by learning about designs, symbols and their meaning. They are then able to paint these in a cave.  
  • Indigenous Australia today: Students learn about Indigenous languages and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
  • Questions: throughout the session students are able to ask an educator any questions relevant to their study or out of interest.


Laura McBride , Creative Producer
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