Bark Painting Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Aboriginal tribes of Australia are one of the prominent cultures known for their bark paintings. This lesson plan is designed to give students a solid understanding of the history and significance of bark painting. An activity brings the traditional art form to life

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the history and significance of bark painting.
  • Identify common themes in traditional bark painting.
  • Summarize the process of bark painting.


60 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.


Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion.


Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing.


  • Several images showing traditional Aboriginal bark paintings
  • A summary sheet of key facts about bark painting (e.g. a simple online search will produce informative websites for the many museums that feature bark painting)
  • Pine bark (readily available by the bag at any garden center)
  • Acrylic paints
  • Fine-tipped paintbrushes


  • Begin by displaying the images of the Aboriginal bark paintings for the class.
    • What do you see in these images?
    • Can you identify the materials used to create these works of art?
    • What can you tell about the culture of the artists who created these works?
  • Using your summary sheet, explain the history of bark painting in the ancient cultures along with its continuing popularity, summarizing the process of creating the art and discussing the significance of the images and symbols painted on the each piece of bark.
    • What role do you think bark painting plays in these cultures?
    • Why might the artists choose to paint on bark?
    • In ancient times, what materials may have served as paints?
    • What are the artists trying to express through their bark paintings?
    • Let's review the steps necessary for creating a bark painting.

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