Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Cave Paintings: Studying the Past

Patricia Barry Holbert
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students study prehistoric cave paintings from Lascaux, France, and Altamira, Spain. The students form their own -clans- and draw cave paintings about their culture.


The student understands how ideas and beliefs, decisions, and chance events have been used in the process of writing and interpreting history.

The student uses chronology, sequencing, patterns, and periodization to examine interpretations of an event.

The student understands the early physical and cultural development of humans.


-World History textbook
-Computer Internet site, slides, or transparencies of cave paintings
-Computer, slide projector, or overhead projector
-Long pieces of paper from a large roll - brown, tan, or white
-Colored chalk, oil pastels, or markers


1. Get the slides or transparencies of the cave paintings ready.
2. If the Internet is going to be used, check these sites and see if there are any other sites you might want to use.
3. Go over the notes from the attached file about the cave paintings.
4. Get the rolled paper, colored chalk, oil pastels, or markers ready.


1. Show cave paintings from Lascaux, France, and Altimira, Spain (from slides, transparencies, the textbook, or from the Internet sites). See Weblinks.

2. Discuss the notes that are provided in the associated file. These notes discuss the origins, the discoveries, the theories, and the methods of painting.

3. Have students simulate cave paintings:
a. Divide the students into -clans- (about 4 or 5 to a group).
b. The students draw and color cave paintings on long rolls of paper that are taped on the walls.
c. They describe what was important to their culture by using pictures.
d. The students will use colored chalk, oil pastels, or markers to -paint - the animals.
e. When they are finished, they tell the rest of the -clans- what their cave painting represents.
f. The students can finish their paintings and tell about them the second day.


The teacher will use the rubrics in the Associated Files to assess the cave painting.


This activity can be used as an introduction to the prehistoric period in the study of World History.
This activity could be used in an art or humanities class to teach about early art.

Web Links

Web supplement for Cave Paintings

Web supplement for Cave Paintings

Web supplement for Cave Paintings

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