Cave Art: Discovering Prehistoric Humans through Pictures

In this lesson, students travel to the past to explore how people in earlier times used art as a way to record stories and communicate ideas. By studying paintings from the Cave of Lascaux and other caves in France, students discover that pictures are more than pretty colors and representations of things we recognize: they are also a way of communicating beliefs and ideas. In many cases, this is what gives us clues today about what happened long ago, especially when there are no written records left behind.

This lesson gives students the opportunity to understand and appreciate the power of art to tell stories, communicate ideas, and promote understanding of the world around us. In this lesson, students learn about images created by people in pre-history and the stories those pictures tell -- both for the people who created them and for us today as we try to understand what life was like many, many years ago.

Guiding Questions

How do people express ideas through art?

Why do people use images to tell stories and to communicate?

What did people use to record important events in their lives or history long ago?

How has art been used throughout history to tell stories or to show us what people in other times and places considered important?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to do the following:

Verbally demonstrate an understanding of how paintings and drawings help convey significant ideas and events and how people today understand the past from putting together stories and history from these images.

Explain how pictures function as symbols, recognizing the way in which the relationship between pictures and words allows images to convey meaning.

Understand how to "read" a picture and put together a series of images in a way similar to that of putting together words to form a story and gain knowledge about the past.