Cave Paintings

Lesson Title: Cave Paintings

Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K:1-3 , CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K-5: 4, 5, 6, 11

Key Objective: Students will discover historical cave paintings while also exploring the work of contemporary artist Quentin Moseley in order to better understand aspects of communication and historical contexts.

Connecting Artist: Quentin Moseley, The Museum of Prehistory

Enduring Idea: How did people who lived in the past express what was important to them?


  • Large and small brown paper bags
  •  Conte crayon or colored chalk
  • Plastic spray bottle (one per acrylic color used)
  • Brightly colored acrylic paint
  • Painter’s tape

The Museum of Prehistory, the artist has “uncovered” tablets of stone that have letters and drawings, or symbols, in the people’s old language.  He also created a dictionary that explains what all of the symbols meant to the people of that time. What symbols could you create to share a story insight about you?

Key concepts/procedures/connecting ideas:

1. Invite learners to become archeologists, learning about how artists and writers communicated about life in the past; they painted in stone caves or carved symbols as letters into stone.

2. Create a cave drawing that shows the traditions and favorite activities of you and your family.  Crumple a brown paper bag to be the rock wall of your cave. Use conte crayon or chalk to draw pictures of your life today on the bumpy paper bag. Who are the people that are important to you? What are the favorite places that you want to draw? 

3. Sign your name to your cave drawing. Artists who created cave paintings did not use letters to sign their name on their artwork. They used handprints to write their name! Crumple a smaller brown paper bag to be the rock for your own handprint signature to your cave drawing. Shake 1 part acrylic paint with 2-3 parts water in a plastic spray bottle. Spray over your hand and allow to dry.