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Images of the Past: A Cave Art Activity


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Keywords: Cave Man, Early Man, Neolithic, Cave Art
Subject(s): History, Social Studies, Art
Grades K through 12
School: Indian Creek Middle School, Waterman, IL
Planned By: Scott McClure
Original Author: Scott McClure, Waterman
The project begins by introducing how the world was many thousands of years ago. The students are asked to lay their heads on their desks and think about their favorite possessions, where they live, how they get around, and what their favorite foods are. Once they have had some time in silence, they are to write them down.

The teacher will ask for some students to read their ideas. Then they are asked to imagine a time period where they would have none of that. They would have no home, almost no clothes, little food available, and can only walk to get where they need to go, which is basically to search for food or find shelter.

Then we will take a look at the book and use a jigsaw strategy. Students are placed into groups of about five students and given a topic to research. They are going to present their topic through a number of mediums. They must have a poster with information and visuals. They must have an overhead transparency. Finally, they need to create some sort of handout that the class can keep and study off of.

After the presentation, the students will take a look at some pictures of cave art found in Lascaux, France. This art was supposedly created more than 17,000 years ago and depicts everyday prehistoric animals and life. Then they are shown a DVD called Lascaux Revisited, which shows how the cave was discovered, the actual video footage taken from the cave, and talks about daily life of prehistoric man and their eventual switch from food hunters and gatherers to food producers.

When the DVD is completed, the students are given a piece of a brown construction paper.. They are told that they are now going to go "back in time" 17,000 years to the year 15,008 BC. They are now prehistoric men and women and must create their own cave art. They are to be historically accurate and upon completion, they are to write a short essay explaining their drawing and why they depicted the pictures they did.

The cave art diagrams are collected and then they placed all over the wall after school. The blinds on the window will be drawn and the hallway windows blacked out with construction paper to make the room virtually dark. The students will enter the room the next day and take a seat. The teacher will then take a flashlight and shine it onto the cave art the students created the day before. Whoever created the art that is spotlighted will have to explain by reading their short essay explaining their cave art.

This then sets us up to move into the next section of prehistoric man and into the development of farming and permanent settlements, which eventually turn into cities.
Comments
This project is great for all middle school students because it will reach many different learning styles, multiple intelligences, and can be applied across the curriculum. Students will learn through group work, creating art, thinking flexibly, applying past knowledge to knew situations, using their imagination, and through writing.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Could be done through art class. Language Arts could take this on and do some writing on what life was like for the Neolithic people.
Follow-Up
They are now set to begin studying how early man made the switch from hunter-gatherers to permanent dwellers, causing a huge increase in population.
Materials: Art Tools, Social Studies, DVD/VCR Players, Televisions, Cause and Effect
Other Items: 1 Lascaux Revisited DVD, $30.00 each, total of $30.00
Paint Supplies as needed