Create Aboriginal Handprint Art Activity

3.5 based on 29 ratings
Updated on Sep 21, 2012

Over 3,500 years ago, Australian Aboriginals created unique handprints on cave walls by blowing a mixture of red ochre and water from their mouths over their hands. Artists also created unique rock paintings alongside their blown handprints to document their life. Traditional Aboriginal art uses lots of patterns and vibrant colors.

Teach your child about the art of ancient Australia by creating your own handprint art just like Aboriginal artists did thousands of years ago. It's a cinch with watered-down tempera paint and a spray bottle.

What You Need:

  • 1 sheet of brown construction paper
  • Spray bottle
  • Tempera paint in red or black and other colors
  • Water
  • Cotton swabs

What You Do:

  1. Before starting the art project, take a look at Australian Aboriginal art and cave paintings online with your child to get an idea of the designs, patterns, and colors of this art style.
  2. Help your child dilute the red or black tempera paint with water in a spray bottle until it's thin enough to spray through the bottle.
  3. Place the brown construction paper in front of your child. The brown paper will stand in for a cave wall. Ask her to place her hand on the paper, spreading her fingers far apart.
  4. Help her spray the diluted tempera paint around the edges of her hand to create a handprint outline, just like Indigenous Australians did.
  5. Let the handprint dry while she washes her hands.
  6. Once dry, encourage your child to decorate around her sprayed handprint using colorful tempera paint and the tip of a cotton swab, making dots and creating lines and shape patterns. Dipping the cotton swab into paint and pressing it onto the paper is a great way to boost her fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Display your child's finished handprint in a fun location, such as her bedroom door!

Sarah Lipoff has a K-12 Art Education degree and enjoys working with kids of all ages.