Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Cave Paintings: Leaving a Message

Jamie Berry
Orange County Schools


Students create cave paintings to leave behind a message for the future civilizations about how they live today.


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


-Art supplies
-Colored paper (12-20 sheets per class)
-Markers (4 packs)
-Paint (4 sets)
-Crayons (10 packs)


1. Get art supplies.
2. Set up supplies for students to use.
3. Put students in groups or have them work on their own.
4. Prepare an example as described in procedures.


1. Get art supplies.

2. Put supplies in a place where students can get them.

3. Decide if you want students to work alone or with a group.

4. Decide what you will use for an example.

5. Introduction to students- We find out about ancient civilizations by what they leave behind. We know today about thriving civilizations that existed in the middle of deserts because of the cave paintings they left behind for future gererations to find. Share examples with them. Discuss what the art says to us today about the people or civilization.

6. Put students into groups or have them work on their own.

7. Ask students to leave a cave painting behind that shows something personal about themselves that a scientist could find a thousand years from now and understand something about our society.

8. Have your example ready to show the students. For example, If you like the music group N'Sync you could draw the name of the group and then write music symbols around it to show that it is a music.

9. Explain that it shows music plays an important part of our society if someone took the time to write it down.

10. Give students a time their projects are expected to be completed.

11. When the students are done with their cave paintings, ask for volunteers to share their work and explain what scientists would learn about our society from it.

12. Assess projects and return to students.


Students will show their knowledge of how we learn about past civilizations when there is no written history. They will understand that we can learn about a civilization by what they leave behind by leaving a "cave painting" of their own for a future civilization to find. Their artwork should reflect something about themselves that would let a different generation know something about their society or "tribe". The student must include beliefs, decisions and chance events. Students will show their understanding of how ideas and beliefs have been used in the process of interpreting history through their artwork for future generations.

Assessment Checklist:

____ 1. Student has followed all directions.
_____2. The artwork shows their beliefs, decisions and chance events
_____3. The artwork would be able to inform a future civilization about their society.
_____4. The artwork is creatively expressive of the intended message.
_____5. The student is able to explain what a futuristic scientist would be able to learn from the cave painting.


Write an essay based on your cave painting. If a scientist viewed it 1000 years from now, what could he tell about you? What might he be wrong about and why?

Web Links

Use this site for examples to share with students as you introduce this lesson.

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