School Projects on Early Man

An archaeologist brushing a human skeleton during an excavation.
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The history of mankind is a fascinating tale of fortitude and discovery. Early ancestors survived on their own resourcefulness. Their successes and mistakes paved the way for future generations. It is important for students to study early man in order to get a better understanding of where they come from and how much further they have the potential to go. Students can demonstrate this understanding through school projects designed to illustrate the life of early mankind.

1 Day-in-the-Life Timeline

Historic petroglyphs on the entrance of a cave.
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A project that focuses on early man could give the viewer a glimpse into a day in the life of a primitive human. Students can select a gender, age group and role, and give a synopsis of what activities that person may have been engaged in throughout a typical 24-hour period.

For example, an adult male, who may have been a hunter for his village, would have to wake up very early to set off on a hunting trip in order to provide food for that week. Students can list what types of animals the man would hunt, how he would hunt for them, how the food would be prepared and shared, what other traditions he would engage in during the day, what his other roles were within the community, and what fears and concerns he might have. Students could construct a timeline complete with illustrations.

2 A Study of Tools

An archaeologist holding an ancient tool crafted from a conch shell.
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Another project that delves into prehistoric living might study the tools early man used to live his life. Modern industrial machines had not yet been invented. Man didn’t have access to soldering irons or even glue. Students would have to research what types of resources could be constructed from what man had around him: what he used to hunt; the kinds of cooking pans, pots or utensils he worked with; how early men and women carried items; what they used to dig or plant; and what devices they used to communicate. Students can create side-by-side comparisons of modern tools and primitive tools using drawings or craft sculptures.

3 Artwork Analysis

Colorful paint cells and a paintbrush on red rock.
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Finally, one aspect of human life that reveals a great deal about the people who created it is artwork. There are many discoveries of early artwork in the form of cave paintings. People drew pictures on the walls of their caves as a way to tell a story or as a form of artistic expression. They used such minerals from the earth as charcoal, iron oxide and black manganese. Students can analyze a form of early artwork to interpret what the artist was trying to say to future observers. Students can try to create their own pictures as a way to tell their own story.

Diane Todd holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from North Carolina State University and is a former video and web producer for a North Carolina multimedia agency. She also spent several years as a media specialist/graphics designer for the Cumberland County school system in Fayetteville, N.C.