Indigenous Australians use plant shoots, Echidna quills and small twigs to paint their Dreamtime stories.  Here are 12 Dot Painting Templates to enjoy with the elderly.
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Evidence has shown that Indigenous Australians have been around for more than 60,000 years.

There is no evidence of a written language, however Australian Aboriginals have used plant shoots, Echidna quills and small twigs to paint their 'dreamtime stories'.

Their art consists of thousands of colourful dots to tell a story. Unlike their European counterparts, Indigenous Australian artists do not use easels, preferring to sit or lie down on the ground with their canvas.

Introduce your residents to 'dot painting' art!


  • Promote tolerance. Stimulate artistic flair.


  • Dot painting templates provided
  • Water based paints in 'earthy colours': orange, dark blue, moss green, dark red, dark and light gray, red brown, dark and light brown.
  • Japanese and Chinese chopsticks (instead of brushes). You can also use an upside down pencil or a cotton bud.


  • Sit 4 or 5 residents around a table. Let other residents sit nearby to watch the work. Show residents a painting you have made previously to inspire and enthuse them.

  • Download and print templates (3 provided).

  • Place a template in front of each resident and fasten with a little blue tack to the table (so it won't move).

  • Let the residents choose what sort of chopsticks they would like to use. Pass the chopsticks around and point out that the Japanese chopsticks will make substantially smaller dots than the Chinese chopsticks.

  • Demonstrate by dabbing a chopstick once in paint and making 3 to 4 dots following the outlines of the template drawings.

  • Explain to residents that after making 3 or 4 dots it is necessary to dab the chopstick into paint again. Lots of patience is required, this is a very therapeutic activity!

  • Let paint dry and then display finished artwork in a prominent place in your facility so that visitors and other residents can see them.

Files included:

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Dot Painting Template - 1

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Dot Painting Template - 2

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Dot Painting Template - 3

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Dot Painting Template - 4

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Dot Painting Template - 5

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Dot Painting Template - 6

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Dot Painting Template - 7

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Dot Painting Template - 8

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Naidoc 1

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Naidoc 2

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Aboriginal Fish

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Comments   Post a Comment

Suzanne Cox 31st Jan 2022
Look very interesting.
Pamela 11th Feb 2020 Activity Coordinator For Older People
Many thanks for your continued variety of activities available . I write a weekly newsletter and include , birthdays of clients , the weather , a wordsearch or quiz and short humorous stories or poems , they all go down well . I also add if any visitors are coming to the centre and what activities are offered each day for them to have a go at . We have children from a local preschool and school children who do activities with the older generation . There are so many things to do and thanks to golden careers I can plan ahead and make informative and interesting letters each week
Susan 11th Feb 2020 Activity Director
Thanks for sharing Pam
Solange 7th Dec 2015 Diversional Therapist
Hi Louise, Thank you for your feedback. You are quite right, Aboriginal art, like native art throughout the world must be treated with care and respect.

As far as I know, non-indigenous artists (professionals and not laypeople) should refrain from painting Aborigine ‘stories’ without permission. There is a strong movement in Australian Aborigine communities to protect indigenous artwork from being exploited by non-indigenous artists. Here is what the ‘Kate Owen Gallery – Contemporary Aboriginal Art” in Sydney has to say.

“Artists need permission to pain a particular story; where ancient and important stories are concerned, and particularly those containing secret or sacred information, and artist must have permission to paint the story she or he paints. Traditional Aboriginal artists cannot paint a story that does not belong to them through family lineage”.

Regarding laypeople, children and adults, it is indeed encouraged. It helps to increase communication and understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous people. In fact the “Kate Owen Gallery” website teaches how to re-create a dot paint inspired by Aboriginal symbols.

We are grateful that you brought the subject up because there ought to be more people with the same doubts. Thanks again. Best wishes!
Louise 6th Dec 2015 Divisional Therapist
Hi everyone I know it is a brilliant idea,I was told that it's not respectful to be doing the dot painting as its a cultural thing and each dot suppose to tell a story of the dream time which I respect highly.i know at some day cares and schools they are not allowed to paint unless there's a presence of a elderly aboriginal.Please clarify for me as I refuse to do it at my high care facility till I get the OK to do so from a elderly.We would love to do it this Australia Day if I get the all clear.Thanks
Helen 7th Jul 2015
We are using these templates for one of our residents as a way of celebrating his heritage during NAIDOC week here in SA (5-12 July 2015). The resident was pleased to be provided with the four templates. When they are completed they will be named, laminated and take pride of place in his room - his home, his choice. Thank you for providing all the quick reference materials, templates, tips etc., its a great website.
Shirley 18th Jun 2014 Recreation Officer
we have used these sometime ago but I'm looking forward to using them again this year with the residents - With Thanks - Shirley NSW
Jeanette 10th Jan 2014 Lifestyle Assistant
Hi! Just another idea for this wonderful activity of dot painting. Last year we went to the park & collected pieces of bark & let the residents paint on the bark with the direction of just doing circles. We have quite a range of cognitive levels, but everyone enjoyed it & we displayed their work in the Dining room over the long weekend.
Bernadette 25th Dec 2013 nurse
Hi I am an activities officer in a high care facility. I found that the residents could use cotton buds easily for the aboriginal dot painting. I have been a member for 2 years now and would like to thank everyone for all the fabulous ideas. Last Australia Day project we did was laminated our dot painting and used the artwork to decorate dining tables and the facility for Australian Day celebrations. Now I will start discussion groups on "The Year of the Horse."
Merry Christmas and have a exciting New Year. Bernadette
Eryl 26th May 2013 Lifestyle Facilitator
Hi you clever people...We are going to try this activity by using chop sticks... let you know how we go... ps. just lovin' this site..:)
eirwen 9th Oct 2012 leisure and lifestyle ass
Thankyou so looking forward to piting this activity in to practice next week Cheers
Danielle 12th Dec 2011
i did some simlar only problem was trying to direct down sydrome resident to dot
Joanne 6th Jan 2011 Leisure and Lifestyle Co ordinator
This can also be done using cotton's very easy for residents to do..
Liz 12th Jan 2010 Supervisor Recreation Therapy Program
This is fabulous I can hardly wait to do this with our clients.
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