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Middle [6th-8th] Lesson Plan

Prehistoric Cave Paintings

Created on October 20, 2014 by MrsImpey

Students will learn how prehistoric man made their own paint in this simple lesson!

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1. SWBAT identify the three ingredients needed to make tempera paint.
2. SWBAT identify the characteristics of cave art.
3. SWBAT make inferences about life of prehistoric man based on their cave paintings.
4. SWBAT create a cave painting based on their geographical area they live in.

1. Tag board
2. Tempera: black, brown and red
3. Sink
4. Drying rack
5. Pencil
6. Egg yolks
7. Powdered tempera
8. Water
9. Mixing cups
10. Popsicle sticks
11. Paint brush
12. Water buckets

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Day 1: Discuss cave art through power point. Take virtual tour of Lascaux Cave.

Day 2: Demonstrate how to make "cave paper".
1. Write name on back.
2. Rip edges of paper off.
3. Crumple tag board.
4. At sink, quickly paint red, brown and black paint.
5. Turn on sink and quickly rinse off paint.
6. You should be left with paint residue, creating the illusion of rock.
7. Place on drying rack.
~While students get called up to sinks, one/two at a time (depending on how many sinks you have,) the others should practice doing cave drawings.

Day 3 & 4: Mix tempera paint. Split students up into groups (depending on how many colors you will be making). I create the following colors: brownish-red, brown, dark-brown, black, and orangish-brown. Each group gets a cup with the powdered pigment, a cup of water, and a cup with an egg yolk in it.

First I have students add half of the water to the pigment and mix until it is a slightly watery mixture. Next, students add the water and pigment mixture to the egg yolk and mix. Put the lid on the cup and shake up to mix.

I have groups bring me their mixed paint and I split it up among paint palettes for everyone to use at their tables. Students then must paint at least three animals (two of which must be full-bodied animals) on their cave paper.

~If you don't have powdered pigment available, you can use crushed up charcoal, clay powder, berries, etc.

~ You could also have students make their own paint brushes using pine branches.

~The pictures above show a variation of this project. In the past I have taken a large piece of butcher paper, had the students wrinkle it and tear the edges, and then rub earth tone chalk on it. We wipe the chalk with paper towels to get the "rock" look.

~In the past, I have brought in a pop-up tent, covered the sides with blankets, and then pinned the artwork on the walls to create a cave. I set a lantern on the outside so that students can go in a few at a time to see the cave art. This has always been a big hit!


Color/Value, Line, Shape

Painting, Tempera

History/Social Studies