Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

Eli and I have just begun our ancient history studies for the year – and I’m very glad to report that I might have another history lover on my hands!

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

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Oh, how I have missed Story of the World.  It’s just such a well-rounded program.  The living text, narration questions, maps, timeline cards and great book suggestions make this eclectic Charlotte Mason homeschooler happy.

I mentioned in this post that we would be going through the curriculum at our own pace and may or may not linger over the hands-on activities.  My little guy isn’t about time fillers, so any hands-on activity we do has to have real purpose.  I found a hands-on activity last week that not only had real purpose, but kept my sweet boy interested for more than an hour!

In one of my favorite art history books for kids, I remembered a realistic cave painting project that I knew would count as a meaningful addition to our day.

Ancient History Art Project: Cave Paintings

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

Fire.  Dirt.  Smashing berries.  Smearing things.  Yeah, you can understand why an 8-year-old boy would find this project interesting.  When I said it’s realistic, I really meant it!

While it takes a bit of time and effort to gather the supplies, I promise you won’t regret it.  Even better, you can count the gathering of supplies as nature study for the day, too! We deviated just a bit from the suggested materials, but the results were very much the same as illustrated in My Art Book from DK Publishing.

We gathered:

  • a concrete block
  • charcoal and ash from a recent fire in our backyard
  • soil
  • blueberries from the freezer (because all the wild berries were long gone)
  • sticks for stirring
  • a bit of water
  • a bit of fat in the form of Crisco

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

  1. Adding a little water to a bowl of berries, Eli used a stick to smash it all together to create a natural dye for painting.

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

2. Stirring a little water into the ashes created the perfect paint.

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

3. Stirring a little fat (Crisco) into the dirt created another type of paint.

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

4. The charcoal pieces from the leftover fire became the drawing tool. 

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

5. Eli mostly used his fingers to paint his pictures.

And that’s it.  A little gathering of supplies.  A little mixing of paints and dyes.  A little drawing.  A little painting.  And you have a FUN and very cool finished project.

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

I LOVE that the entire project was illustrated step-by-step with clear directions for my son to follow on his own.  We’re working on more learning independence this year and the lesson was perfect for him!

Realistic Cave Paintings: An Ancient History Art Project

The use of the realistic materials is what makes this project such a powerful experience.  After reading about the importance of archaeologists in understanding the lives of ancient people and learning that cave dwellers painted pictures that depicted their daily lives, doing such a realistic project really helped Eli “get” the importance of both the artwork and the archaeologists.

I can’t wait to share more from our ancient history studies with you this year.  If you have a “knock it out of the park” type of project you would suggest during our study, please share it in the comments!

Watch for more art history projects from My Art Book as we do artist study through the year, too!

Other posts you might like:

 10 Living Books To Teach Ancient History More Than Just a Dinosaur Unit Study 8 Things I Learned from Teaching Story of the World

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5 Comments

  1. Awesome! He did a great job. It truly does look ancient. I will try this with my youngest.

  2. I really want to do this! My kids would love it. 🙂

  3. Love this Cindy, we’re doing Ancients this year too, it’ll be my 4th time through Story of the World, and I too love this book/program for a history spine. Hoping to incorporate your cave painting ideas in 🙂 I’m also using Barb Harmonies Ancients Music and Art for the year, it’s great! Enjoy your new year! xo

  4. Do you think you could use this with paper bags as the back drop?

  5. Sure, Patricia! I think that would work just fine. Let me know how it goes!

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