Teaching Ideas for the Stone Age
The Stone Age is a period of history that captivates children's interest. First, it is the ancient past: The Paleolithic Age began almost two million years ago. Then there is the concept of the caveman, hunting for food to survive. Children often have preconceptions about this time period, so doing some research into the facts should be a starting point in the classroom.
1 Group Research
Ask the children to research the Stone Age in groups. Instruct one group to look into Stone Age man's tools, another to research the language of the period, another to look at the clothes and yet another to investigate the animals that existed at this time. The groups should consult books and use websites to help them. Show the class a "Flintstones" cartoon and discuss how this portrayal of the Stone Age differs from the research they have conducted.
Invite a local stonemason into the classroom to demonstrate how to work with stone and to show how difficult it is to shape a flint tool without the aid of a metal cutting tool. Ask the children to identify anything that they could make without using a metal cutting tool like a saw. Show the children copies of Stone Age tools found on archaeological sites and discuss the possible uses of the tools.
3 Stone Age Cooking
Ask the children to prepare a simple snack, such as a sandwich, using only the tools available at the time of the Stone Age. In other words, the children must cut the bread and prepare the fillings without using metal knives. Another idea is to assess Stone Age man's meals and how nutritional these were. Compare Stone Age man's diet, based on meat and grains, with a typical American diet.
Show the class some pictures of typical cave paintings with animals. Discuss the depictions in the paintings and what these can tell us about Stone Age life. Provide clay and acrylic paints for the students to recreate their own cave paintings. Tell the children that they should think of telling a story with their paintings, such as a hunter killing an animal. The children can then take turns showing their visual "stories" and describing them.