Age group: 
Creative Arts
Social Science

Classroom unit


In this unit students explore the idea of symbols, and how symbols are used to create messages in the Australian flag and the Aboriginal flag.The IP message embedded within this unit is that our national symbols are special and should be used appropriately. 

Learning Objectives

Students will be better able to:

  • Identify symbolism
  • Understand the 'messages' and meanings in national symbols
  • Appreciate the history of the Aboriginal and Australian flags
  • Recognise where and how flags as national symbols are used in their own community
  • Understand that copyright laws apply to the use of designs

Curriculum Areas:

  • Art - symbols and meaning
  • Society and Environment - national symbols and identity
  • History - Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous heritage
  • Civics and Citizenship - symbols in our society

Year/s: Primary 8-11 years


Duration: 1-2 x 45 minute lessons

Teacher Prep Time: 5 minutes

Materials Required: Online, smart board or hard copies of Worksheets 1-6 


1. Students work through and discuss the meaning of 'symbols' on Worksheet 1. They try to identify examples in Question 2.
2. Students now start to try to identify key symbols in the Australian flag (Worksheet 2).

3. Discuss with students the seven symbols on Worksheet 3. This might raise the question why we tend to see yellow and gold rather than red, white and blue as our predominant national colours.

4. Have students draw the Aboriginal flag on Worksheet 4 rather than paste in a printed copy - this will mean they are more attuned to the shapes and colours if they have to reproduce them themselves. To help students understand the design features have them colour in two rectangles, cut them out and paste them on a page, trace out a circular design, colour it, and then paste it on top of the rectangles. This shows how a more complex-looking design is actually created from two basic shapes.

5. Students use the information on Worksheet 5 to answer the questions on Worksheet 4. The information about copyright may need more explanation with the students.

6. Students research one or both of the Australian and Torres Strait Island flags, using the same key questions on Worksheet 4.

7. The discussion on changes to the flag on Worksheet 6 is optional. Students will probably reflect their family's opinions on this issue, and you may not feel it is an appropriate issue to raise. Students can have great fun, however, using symbols to design their own flag, and this activity will get across the power of symbols as a representation of messages and ideas.

worksheet_1-_what_are_symbols.pdf PDF in PDF format [199.34 KB]199.34 KB
worksheet_2-_symbols_of_australia.pdf PDF in PDF format [237.49 KB]237.49 KB
worksheet_3-_symbols_on_the_australian_flag.pdf PDF in PDF format [257.74 KB]257.74 KB
worksheet_4-_what_is_the_aboriginal_flag.pdf PDF in PDF format [177.35 KB]177.35 KB
worksheet_5-_some_information_about_the_aboriginal_flag.pdf PDF in PDF format [210.7 KB]210.7 KB
worksheet_6-_some_more_things_to_think_about.pdf PDF in PDF format [181.48 KB]181.48 KB
Last updated: 
Saturday, November 23, 2013