Prehistoric Art

     In my last post Learning About Art, I wrote a summary about our study of western art in preparation for visiting museums in Europe.  Before sharing my thoughts on visiting museums with kids and looking at Modern art, it would be helpful to see how we studied each art period or artist.

Bison – Cave of Altamira – Prehistoric Art  (Image from

History of Western Art

    I used Google Slides to organize the images, websites and information we used to learn about prehistoric art. We started by taking a virtual tour of the Chauvet Cave from 30,000 BC.  It is located in France and is the earliest cave painting found to date.  The link above takes you to a virtual tour of the cave.  We also took a virtual tour of the Lascaux Cave in France.  In Lascaux there are 100’s of paintings of moving animals made with mineral and vegetable pigments.  As we looked at the paintings in each cave we discussed the following questions:

  • What do you see?
  • What do you notice about the drawings?
  • What colors were used?  
  • What do the images show?
  • What does the art tell us about the people who made them?

Knowledge EncyclopediaWe read from Knowledge Encyclopedia to learn about people from the Paleolithic Era. The kids asked questions and we took time to look at a few more images. I asked the kids to create a picture, painting, or collage that shows something about life in the Paleolithic period using the kinds of images and techniques used by cave artists.

I made copies of cave art drawings and provided the kids with brown butcher paper and soft pastels.  We crumpled up the paper and choose colors that reflected the pigments available to early people.

 IMG_6623              IMG_6622IMG_6617

     This was quick lesson and a great way to for the kids to begin our art appreciation lessons.  It was helpful for them to experiment using soft pastels to make simple drawings.  It is important to allow children to explore materials in open ended and/or simple ways before asking them to create an art piece with them.

Oil paints, acrylic palette, and pencils.
Using oil paint for the first time.

We ended our art appreciation lessons with a self-portrait.  The kids were free to use any material and style to complete their self-portrait.  Having the opportunity to try may materials to create art and to study art from different periods helped them learn how techniques and ideas developed through time.  It set the stage for looking at Modern art.

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Maria Arana

Hi, I am Maria, a mom to three wonderful kiddos. My family and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. We love the beauty of the desert southwest. I am a former primary teacher and elementary math coach. I love to encourage my children to follow their interests and passions. At Guided Learning Studio, I offer private personalized lessons and enrichment classes. Tutoring services are best for families seeking long-term educational support over a semester or school-year.

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