Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cave Painting with Story of the World Ancient Times

Why yes, we HAVE been on chapter 1 of volume 1 of The Story of the World for about six months now!

The girls enjoy listening to the audiobooks of all four volumes of Story of the World (which I've burned to mp3 and put on my ipod), so I'd say that they've been skipping around quite a bit of history in their free time, but just when I think that we're ready to move on to, I don't know, chapter TWO?!?, somebody (me) thinks up or comes across another activity related to chapter 1, and somebody else (them) gets hyped up to do it, so there we go.

This time? Cave painting.

Including Paleolithic-era cave painting might be stretching even Bauer's definition of "from the earliest nomads" a little bit, but especially because the girls and I have spent so much time exploring prehistory and the evolution of the earliest humans on our own, I liked the idea of bridging the gap, so to speak, with an activity that connected early nomads to later ones, and I thought it was important to bring more historical (nomads didn't ONLY roam in 7,000 BCE) and geographical context (nomads didn't ONLY roam in the Fertile Crescent) to the study.

Because nomads made lots of cool cave art in lots of cool places during lots of different time periods. My favorite cave painting web sites are these two from France:
  • Chauvet Cave
  • Lascaux Cave--this site is AMAZING, just so you know. It's a virtual walk-through of the cave, down to the tiniest detail, and you can zoom up in even more detail on each piece of art that you pass, as well as get more information on it.
The Cueva de las Manos in Argentina is also a pretty great cave, but its web site is nothing fancy. 

To make our own cave art, I first created a cave environment by cutting open a ton of brown paper grocery bags and duct taping them all over a wall. The girls' loft bed was still against the wall at that time, so I taped the bags right over the planks of the bed that were against the wall, adding some dimension to the cave, since that was very important to many cave artists. 

Since the cave was a temporary installation, I prepared several pots of tempera (tempera's quality is crap, so it's unsuited to make any art that you want to keep, but it's so cheap that it's perfect for process-based work), and handed it all off to the kids:

I didn't give the kids any instructions (other than "We only paint on the brown paper") but we've read so many books about cave art, and seen so many visual examples, that I shouldn't be surprised at how traditional their work was:


It ended up as QUITE the fabulous cave:

Because we'd all been so intrigued by our study of Cueva de las Manos, I set up a second smaller cave wall specifically to do hand stencils:

I used our liquid watercolors in spritz bottles, which work great on brown paper bags:

It was REALLY messy--of COURSE!--but turned out great. The kids both stenciled both of their hands (spritzing that bottle is an excellent fine motor-strengthening activity, especially for the non-dominant hand), and I even convinced Matt that he should join me in stenciling our hands, too, so that we ended up with a Paleolithic family portrait, of sorts:

Other than the aforementioned web sites, here are the other resources that we pored over to learn about cave painting:

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