Flat stones (for writing on)
Pointed stones (for scratching with)
A little water
Pictures of cave paintings
Today we looked at the first pages of an Art History book, and read about Cave Paintings. We learned about how four teenagers discovered the Lascaux caves in France in 1940 after chasing their dog, "Robot", into one of the earthly fissures.
My children, ages 3 and 5, thought this was a pretty cool story, and they were pretty engaged in the lesson and activity.
|Pictured: two of the four teens who found the cave.|
We looked at some examples of single-figure paintings, like animals, and discussed how that object or animal might have been important to the artist, and why he chose to paint it.
For the horse, might it have been used for transportation? For agriculture? As a pet?
I asked the children to think about their own lives, and objects or animals that are important to them. If they were early humans, what special thing would they chose to draw and share with future humans?
Both children named their favorite toys, and we later used those objects as the subject for our own paintings.
This helped us return to a discussion from earlier in the week about the water cycle, large-scale planetary changes, and the precipitation necessary to create vegetal or barren landscapes.
Last, we compared two methods of making cave art; painting and scratching.
We wondered how early humans made their paint (something we'd also learned about during our Leonardo da Vinci unit), and imagined how we could grind up certain brightly colored stones or bits of clay to make a powered pigment. We read about how black lines were made by using burnt sticks, charcoal, or wetted soil, and looked at animals that were painted with these methods.
To easily recreate this process, we ground up sidewalk chalk and wetted the powder to make our own "paint".
We used brushes to paint our animal and toy figures onto flat stones.
Next, we looked at some images of cave paintings made by scratching stone-on-stone.
We went hunting for a few thin, sharp stones to use as our tools.
We practiced making marks on different kinds of flat stones...
... and discovered that some stones worked better than others.
We looked at images of some of the more busy cave paintings, and discussed how a lack of alphabet meant that these people told their stories through images. For example, footprints symbolized a long journey.
We arranged our stones to tell a story.
In the end, the kids were really excited that they had effectively created "cave paintings," which if left deep inside a secret cave, could (in theory), survive for hundreds of years and become a message to future humans!