Make Cave Paintings

Fourth Grade History Activities: Make Cave Paintings

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Cave paintings are the oldest known drawings and paintings in the world. Using butcher paper, ink and charcoal, your child will become an anthropologist while exploring ancient motifs such as buffalo, bison and hunters, creating their very own cave painting. Kids start with a sheet of brown butcher paper and tear off the edges to make it look old. Then, they draw animal shapes on cardstock and cut them out. The animal shapes are placed on top of the butcher paper and lightly painted over with spray paint or watered down tempera, leaving an outline of the animal. Then the images are painted in or details are added in paint or charcoal.

What You Need:

  • Butcher paper 11” x 17”
  • Charcoal or willow sticks
  • Cardstock paper 11” x 17”
  • Brown or red Conte Crayons or oil pastels
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

What You Do:

  1. Draw outlines of bison, deer, and buffalo on cardstock paper. Cut them out to use as stencils.
  2. Carefully tear the edges of the butcher paper so all the edges are torn.
  3. Place the stencils on top of the butcher paper and outline them with charcoal. Do as many stencils as you like to create your scene.
  4. Blend out the edges of the charcoal outline, working the the charcoal smears away from the animal, leaving the center of the animal empty.
  5. Use charcoal around the edges of the torn paper to make it appear ancient.
  6. Add symbols and smudges of red and brown Conte crayons or pastels between your animal shapes. These symbols can include stick figure hunters, bows, arrows and fire.
  7. Create a wall full of cave paintings to create your very own life-size pre-historic scene.
Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.

Updated on May 18, 2011
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