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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

Cave Painting in the I.C.E. Age

Project URL:

How it works:
In this unit, introduced in Humanities class with online research in the digital art computer lab, students explore early human cave paintings in order to create their own faux cave paintings. An Early Humans task sheet guides them through a variety of rich Web sites covering cave paintings in France, Spain, and India as well as artifacts and digs in the U.S. Upon completion of the Internet research, the students use charcoal sticks and chalk to sketch in the elements for their own paintings on brown paper bags. They then use watercolors in a palette of black, browns, ochre, and sienna to resemble ancient cave paintings. After drying, the 21st century cave paintings are exhibited on the classroom bulletin boards. Classmates take turns interpreting each another's work. This program was first created for sixth grade students at  the Institute for Collaborative Education (I.C.E.), a small, diverse New York City public school for grades six through twelve.

Standards addressed:  
Students understand the historical perspective and the biological and cultural processes that shaped the earliest human communities, and view the past in terms of the norms and values of the time. They apply media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts;  know a range of subject matter, symbols, and potential ideas; and understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures. They study  the biological and cultural processes that shaped the earliest human communities, and use content, style, and structure (formal or informal language, genre, organization) appropriate for specific audiences (public, private) and purposes (to entertain, to influence, to inform).

Materials used:
Required materials include computers with Internet connection,
an Early Humans worksheet, pencils, scrap paper, brown paper bags, chalk, charcoal, watercolors, brushes, and water.

The students:
This program was created for sixth grade students, but it can easily be adapted for other grades.

Overall value:
Cave Painting in the I.C.E. Age is a hands-on approach to recreating the visual iconography used by early humans to record their daily lives and hunts. Through the Internet, students explore archaeological sites where cave paintings have been discovered. At I.C.E.,  it has been found effective to integrate learning in more than one classroom. While the students learn about early humans in humanities class, their interest becomes impassioned as they do Internet research and then return energized and ready to create their own faux cave art.
During Internet research time, tell the students that they can work as individuals or in teams as long as each student is responsible for filling out his/her own work sheet.  Some students might require additional time to complete the sheet. If time isn't available in the lab (or if you don't want to extend the time allotted), let them finish it for homework. If a student does not have an Internet connection at home, he/she can stay after school or go to the public library.  At. I.C.E., three different classes did this project. The students were shown how to bookmark the sites to make it easier for the next class to find.

About the teachers:
Meryl Meisler and Grace Raffaele are colleagues working with the middle school students at the Institute for
Collaborative Education. Meryl teaches digital art and Grace teaches humanities. They like to collaborate on units that involve both curricula.


Subject Areas:                            
Social Studies

Grade Level: 



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