From the moment I officially became an art teacher, I have wanted to do a Cave Art lesson. My first attempt was when I was a student teacher in Australia where I had students make their own brushes out of natural materials and painted Australian animals on large paper posted on the walls. Now that I have my own space, I have kicked the lesson up a notch and turned my classroom in to a cave which rocked…and rolled (cheeseball, yes, I know).
We began with a rich discussion about why people thousands of years ago drew on cave walls, what they drew and the materials they used. In addition, I told them the story of the Laucax Caves in France prior to the painting.
I turned the classroom into a cave by covering the windows with cramped paper, turning the tables on their sides to resemble walls and made a fake fire where they retrieved the charcoal for drawing. I also had them crawl into the classroom, cranked up the air-con to make it cold, periodically sprayed water on them with a spray bottle and had dripping sounds playing on a loop. From there, they began drawing animals, symbols and made handprints to tell stories like the cave man before them.
Later I taped all 150 of them together and used it as the stage backdrop at our school’s talent show which was stone age themed, of course. Cave art has been and still is one of my favourite lessons as it combines history, storytelling and art in a fun, experiential way.
The next time I do this lesson, I want the students to dispatch an animal so they can use the fat as a mixing medium to make charcoal, also tan the hide, make a loin cloth that they will then wear while they paint in our fictional cave…just kidding. Or am I!?