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Painting the Past

Software: Jamboard
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Cave paintings are ancient art and a form of communication for our ancestors. They serve as a foundation for the alphabet and the development of written language. When teaching about ancient cultures worldwide, introducing learners to cave paintings will help them understand their artistic expressions and, more crucially, the origins of written communication.

Learners will investigate ancient cave paintings worldwide, decode what they mean, and carve their cave paintings, followed by narrating the same.

Lesson Overview

Overview Activity Objectives
Opening Activity Learners will observe cave paintings worldwide and try to decode the story the cave people were trying to share via them.
  • Identify the main idea of an illustration. 
Main Activity Learners will create an illustration that shares a story.
  • Create a cave painting that shares a story. 
Closing Activity Learners will narrate their stories and share their illustrations with their peers.
  • Narrate and present the cave painting to peers. 


Prior Knowledge:
Learners should be able to:

  • Observe illustrations and describe them orally. 
  • Identify the main idea of an illustration.


Lesson Objectives:
Learners will:

  • Analyze and interpret ancient cave art to identify its possible meaning and story.
  • Collaborate with peers to create their own cave art on Google Jamboard using techniques similar to ancient cave art.
  • Develop effective communication skills to narrate their cave art to the rest of the class.


Learning Outcomes: 
Learners will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of ancient cave art by interpreting and identifying its possible meaning and story.
  • Collaborate effectively with peers to create their own cave art using Google Jamboard, incorporating similar techniques used in ancient cave art.
  • Apply critical thinking and creativity to develop unique, meaningful cave art conveying a story.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills by narrating the story behind their cave art to the rest of the class.




Pre-lesson Prep

  • Like all lessons on Eddy, this lesson follows a particular approach. If this is your first time implementing an Eddy lesson, check out our lesson approach for more information.
  • Prepare necessary logistics in advance.
  • Prepare necessary technology/hardware in advance
    • Devices (tablets/laptops/Chromebooks/computers) - one per team
    • A stable wifi connection.
    • Access to Google Jamboard on each device.




How can I adjust the activity for learners who require more support?
Provide prompts for learners who struggle with coming up with ideas. For example, you could give them a list of animals often depicted in cave art and ask them to choose one to create.
For gifted learners
Provide opportunities to research cave art and storytelling techniques used in different cultures. This can help them better understand the topic and create more meaningful and authentic work.
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Slide 1, 2

The main Idea of this activity is to introduce learners to ancient means of communication before the invention of language. Begin by sharing the lesson overview with the learners
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Slide 3

Begin by asking the class to role-play within teams and decide “what to eat for dinner” without using oral or written language. 

Share that the time limit to discuss and arrive at one meal option would be two minutes. The only rule to be followed throughout the role-playing is “No talking or writing.”

Observe the class for different ways they would use to convey the message. 

At the end of the timer, ask teams to say the meal out loud at 3..2...1. 

Then ask, “How did you communicate the meal option without talking?”

Expect responses like

  1. Using hand gestures. 
  2. By drawing. 
  3. Using body gestures. 

Encourage learners to think critically and share their ideas. Remembering to create a safe and inclusive environment where all learners can freely share their thoughts and ideas is essential.

Congratulate the teams that successfully conveyed the meal option without using written or oral communication.

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Slide 4

Once learners have experienced how to communicate without language, ask, “How did people communicate before the development of languages?”

Please encourage them to seek inspiration from their recent experience and share their opinion of how early humans communicated. 

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Slide 5

Affirm correct responses received and share different forms of communication people used before the invention of language. If learners cannot share these examples, walk learners through the different forms of communication in the past. Some forms are listed below: 

  1. People used gestures and facial expressions to communicate. For example, pointing indicates direction.
  2. They also used pictures and symbols to share stories or information. Many ancient cave paintings have been discovered worldwide, which states that people used pictures to tell a story.
  3. People used sounds to talk to each other, similar to how some animals talk today. Some scientists believe that early humans used a form of proto-language, which consisted of a limited set of sounds combined in different ways to convey different meanings. 
  4. They used touch and other nonverbal ways to express themselves and show their feelings. People likely used touch, such as patting on the back or holding hands, to express emotions.
  5. People used gestures like smoke signals to convey the message to people far off. 
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Slide 6

After briefly discussing ways of communication before language was invented, introduce learners to cave paintings and share that they would get to see some ancient cave paintings from different corners of the world and then try and guess what they are trying to convey. 
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Slide 7, 8, 9

These slides have been provided with ancient cave painting illustrations worldwide. You can pause on each illustration and urge learners to share the story or main idea that the cave painting in the image is conveying. 

Some questions to ask the learners while displaying cave paintings are: 

  1. What do you see in this picture?
    Expected Response: The learner may describe the painting’s objects, shapes, and colors.
  2. What do you think the early man tried to say with this painting?
    Expected Response: The learner may provide a simple interpretation or guess based on the visual clues, such as "He was telling a story about hunting" or "He wanted to show the animals he saw.”
  3. How do you think early man communicated before we had language?
    Expected Response: The learner may suggest that early man used pictures or drawings to communicate and that this is what we call cave paintings.
  4. Can you imagine what it would be like to live during the time of early man?
    Expected Response: The learner may express their thoughts and feelings about what it would be like to live in a different period and may draw connections to their own experiences and lifestyle.
  5. How do you think these paintings were made?
    Expected Response: The learner may suggest that early man used materials like charcoal or rocks to make the paintings and may express amazement that these paintings have lasted for so long.

Remember to keep the questions simple and open-ended to encourage discussion and engagement from the learners.

You can also visit https://geology.com/articles/cave paintings/more-cave paintings.shtml to browse more cave paintings. 




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Slide 10

Introduce learners to the task. Begin by sharing that they would collaborate with their teammates to create a cave painting that tells a story about their school experience. 
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Slide 11, 12

Walk learners through the steps of creating a cave painting: 

Step 1: Think of a story about your school experience that you want to convey via your cave painting. Learners would brainstorm within the team and arrive at an idea for their cave painting. They will utilize the cave painting ideation template to write down their ideas. 

You can use the following guiding questions to help your learners understand a simple story that can be conveyed via a cave painting.

  • Which event from the school are you sharing through your cave painting?
  • What is happening in your cave painting?
  • Which characters are a part of your story? 
  • What is the main idea or message of the story? 
  • Which part of the school is the story taking place in?

    Step 2: Create a cave painting using symbols that effectively convey your story. Encourage them to be creative and use their imagination to develop designs they think have been used by early people. You can use the following guiding questions to assist learners in creating their cave paintings: 

  • What story or message do you want to convey through your cave painting?
  • What patterns or symbols would you like to include in your cave painting?
  • How can you use different shapes and lines to create different symbols in your cave painting?
  • Can you think of ways to make your cave painting interesting or unique?
  • How can you ensure that peers will understand your cave painting?
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Slide 13, 14, 15

Utilize these slides to walk learners through the basic features of a Google Jamboard and for them to practice creating a stick figure on Jamboard. Also, provide free exploration time for learners to get comfortable with the tool. 


Note: After opening the Jamboard template, duplicate the cave painting template and share it with your learners for creation.


To demostrate how to use Google Jamboard for the cave painting, use this video tutorial.




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Slide 16

Build excitement in the learners by sharing that we would now organize a cave painting museum by displaying all the fantastic paintings we have created. 
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Slide 17

Before sharing about the museum walk, introduce learners to what a museum is. Share, “A museum is where people see and learn about things like art, history, science, and culture. It's like a big library, but instead of books, they have things on display that you can look at and learn about. The items in a museum are usually very special and important, and people take care of them very carefully.

Some museums have paintings and sculptures made by famous artists. Other museums have things from history, like old coins, weapons, or tools people used long ago. You can learn about how people lived in the past and how things have changed over time.”

Encourage learners to visit a museum with their friends and family. 

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Slide 18

Also, share that the class would organize a museum walk to share their cave paintings.
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Slide 19

Followed by an introduction to what a museum is; share the duration of the activity, which will be 35 minutes, and the rules to be followed during the museum visit. 

The entire class and the educator would visit one station at a time, where they would get the opportunity to observe the cave painting. To make the activity more fun, the team displaying the cave painting will ask viewers what they think is the story behind it. 

This would help learners discern the accuracy of the cave painting in conveying the story. 

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Slide 20, 21

To help learners look at each other's cave paintings and narrate a story, follow these steps:

  • Group the learners into pairs or small groups.
  • Provide each group with a set of cave paintings created by the other learners in the class. For example, if there are eight groups in your class. Four groups would display the cave painting, and the others would visit one group at a time. They would take turns and observe all four groups one by one in a circular fashion.
  • Ask teams to look closely at it, taking note of the shapes, colors, and details that stand out.

You can use the following guiding questions to help learners narrate a story by looking at cave paintings made by peers:
- Observe the elements in the cave painting. 
- Who are the characters in the painting? Can you describe them?
- Where is the painting set? Can you describe the environment or setting?
- What is happening in the painting? What are the characters doing?
- Talk about what you think is happening in the cave painting.

  • Encourage learners to imagine a story based on the painting they have chosen. What do they think is happening in the scene? Who are the characters? What are they doing? What might happen next?
  • Ask each team to narrate the story of the cave painting with the group that created it, using the painting as a visual aid to help them tell the story. Once the viewing team has shared their narration of the cave painting, the hosting team will clarify the intended story behind their cave painting. 
  • Encourage group members to listen carefully to each other's stories and provide positive feedback, such as asking questions or offering compliments.
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Slide 22, 23

Wrap up the activity by asking each group to share their favorite story or cave painting from the set with the rest of the class and invite learners to provide feedback and ask questions.




How would the cave painting Museum activity be an apt closing for learners?
This presentation allows learners to take ownership of their learning and present their work creatively and interactively. It also allows learners to practice their storytelling and public speaking skills, and it can be a fun and engaging way to share their learning with others.




Limited participation.


Participates but may need some prompting.


Active and engaged throughout the lesson.

Cave Painting Creation



Cave painting is incomplete or poorly crafted.


Creates a cave painting but with minimal effort.


Creates a unique and well-crafted cave painting.




Struggles to create a story or story are irrelevant to the cave painting.


Creates a story with minimal effort or is irrelevant to the cave painting.


Creates an exciting and well-structured story that is relevant to the cave painting.




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