Indigenous Australians - Stage 1 Teachers' Notes

A self-guided activity for students visiting the Indigenous Australians: Australia's first peoples exhibition.

Indigenous Australians Exhibition

Australian Museum Photograher  © Australian Museum

PLEASE NOTE: Our Indigenous Australians exhibition is currently undergoing renovation.Some elements of the exhibition have been changed in format or removed.
The eastern half of the exhibition space now displays objects from the Museum’s permanent collection and the western half now hosts special Indigenous art exhibitions.

Before your visit

Syllabus links
  • Human Society and Its Environment
  • Visual Arts
  • English
  • Maths
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 identity for example: names (given and surname), fingerprints, photographs, family crests (Indigenous Australians have different patterns and designs that represent individuals or groups).
  • introducing or revising relevant terminology used in the student activity sheets including the terms ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Identity’.
  • 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.

Please photocopy the following materials for each student:

The following materials should be photocopied for each supervising adult:

At the Australian Museum

The activities enable students to explore concepts related to identity, culture and the use of hands while immersed in a stimulating specimen-rich environment.

There are four self-guided activities each based in different sections of the Indigenous Australians: Australia's first peoples exhibition. The activities are:

  1. Hand Painting in the Rock Shelter (Area 3 on exhibition floorplan)
  2. Why put hands in a painting? (Area 5 on exhibition floorplan)
  3. What objects were made by hand? (Areas 15 and16 on exhibition floorplan)
  4. Signing with hands (Area 23 on exhibition floorplan)

The Indigenous Australians: Australia’s first peoples floorplan illustrates the location of the above activities.

Organisational tips
  • Use the Museum Guide Map to guide the students to the Indigenous Australians: Australia’s first peoples exhibition on the ground level of the Museum.
  • Advise the students that they will investigate four activities in this exhibition and that each activity is based in a different part of the exhibition.
  • We suggest that you divide the students into groups to rotate through the various activities in order to avoid overcrowding of the displays.

Post-visit activities

On a large piece of butchers paper or cardboard ask each student to place one handprint and paint one symbol that means something to them. A range of different sized and shaped hands will illustrate the differences between the students physically and the symbols will represent their different personal identities. The class can then reflect upon the collaborated artwork which illustrates their group and class identity.

Jenny Horder , Manager
Last Updated:

Tags teachers notes, stage 1, Aboriginal, Studies, Stage, Indigenous, Australia, Australians,