Cave Art in 3D: a prehistoric painting experience

I have done a simple version of this cave art project a couple of times with kindergarten children, but always wanted to try making the experience more authentic by having my students create a cave wall on which to paint directly.

When the opportunity arose to teach this project again with primary (elementary) school children (aged 6 – 10) I happened to have a couple of large cardboard boxes lying around, so we decided to build the corner of a cave in the classroom. Using a combination of brute force and parcel tape we created the basic cave structure complete with an overhanging ceiling.

Then each child prepared a sheet of brown construction paper as described in my earlier blog post, Paint Like a Cave Man (November 2012), rubbing chalks and dirty paint colours into the paper before tearing and crumpling it to create their own section of roughly textured cave wall.

This time, instead of painting the hunting figures and animals onto their paper while it was flat on the table, I asked the children to glue their papers onto the cardboard construction. We used lots of white PVA glue so that this layer of paper would also help to reinforce and strengthen our cave structure. Once it was dry the children could start decorating the cave walls and ceiling.

We had already learned about prehistoric man and studied the famous cave paintings at Lascaux in South West France which are thought to be more than 17,000 years old.

Using those real cave paintings as inspiration, the children painted their own horses, bulls and hunters using black and browns mixed to match the natural pigments used in prehistoric art.

It was quite a challenge for the children to control their paint brushes on an uneven surface that was also at a vertical angle, in some cases very low down, or even above their heads!

When all the children had completed their paintings, we were able to survey our cave in all its glory. We were delighted with how realistic it looked!

The cave has now found a permanent home in a corner of our school library where it has become a quiet, cosy place for relaxing with a book!





This project was completed by children at the Lernwerkstatt Sowiedu in Vienna, Austria in October 2018.


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