Aboriginal Symbols... a rich and beautiful mode of cultural expression

The use of symbols as a mode to express and preserve important cultural stories is something that has been a part of Aboriginal culture all through-out history and is a practice which continues strongly today. Symbols are a wonderful way to introduce children to aspects of Aboriginal Australia, particularly in the context of artwork and story-telling. Symbols vary across regions, and can sometimes be quite elaborate and multi-layered in their meanings, telling complex stories. Symbols, used through Aboriginal art, have survived for over thousands of years across a range of mediums, including through use in rock paintings and engravings, and Aboriginal art continues to be one of the oldest art forms practiced today.

There are many ways children can use symbols in activities. For example, you could use symbols in artwork to tell or draw a story, and have your children tell their stories to their classmates. Another idea is to use symbols on stones (painted on) to play games, e.g. tic tac toe. Children can practice drawing symbols in sand (this can be done inside or out - in a sand pit or in a sand tray at a table). Playing ‘matching’ games with symbol flash cards is also a fun activity.

Our Aboriginal Symbol Cards are a fabulous starting point for introducing symbols to your children. We also encourage you to reach out to local Aboriginal groups in your region to find out more about specific symbols that they may use. Having a local person come into your centre to teach you about their culture is always the best and most enriching way to learn about any aspect of our culture!

Deborah Hoger