Prehistoric Art on Clay Stones

Author: Michael Calles
Year: 2021
Artform: Visual Art
Subjects: Social Studies
Grade: 4th Grade
Duration: 3 sessions


  • Oil pastels
  • White clay (we used Sculpting modeling clay by Sargent Art)
  • Tooth brush
  • Sketch paper
  • Pencils
  • Images from Lascaux caves or other prehistoric art examples
  • Brown tempera paint and brushes ¼ inch


Download PDF Lesson Plan

Standards & Objectives

Fine Art Standards
Integrated Standards

To familiarize students with Prehistoric art, the reasons for it, the subject matter depicted, style and colors used. This project is integrated with a 4th grade study of Native people.

Teaching and Timeline


DAY 1:

Did you know that people native to Utah created art on rocks?

Go to Utah Rock Art Research Association website, and look at some examples. Some of these examples of work were created over 14,000 years ago.

Did you also know that there were also native people from other parts of the world that were doing similar work on rock walls and even in caves? We are going to look at some of this type of art too, specifically from a cave in the town of Lascaux in France.

Video: The Discovery of Lascaux Cave


What did you see?

(animals-bulls, horses, deer, birds, and people)


Why were the images painted on the walls in the first place?

The paintings were made about 20,000 years ago by people living at that time. Scientists believe they were painted because prehistoric people believed in “Hunting Magic”, and the theory suggests that the people that painted them, did it during rituals designed to gain power over the animals they hunted.



  1. Hand out 2 pieces of clay to each student.
  2. Have students roll out clay (combine both pieces), to about the thickness of a thick coin. The idea is to make the clay look like real stones. The next step is to have the students push the bristles of the tooth brush into the clay to create texture like real stones.
  3. Put a hole through the stones at the edge so that it can be hung later.
  4. Sign the back to keep them organized when storing to dry.

Work Period

DAY 2:

  1. Have the student students paint their stones thinly with brown tempera paint to represent the color of stones.
  2. Sketch out on paper, what they want to put on their stones. They can do something out of their head or use some images from the internet on the white board, or a combination of the two.
  3. If there is time, have them begin their paintings on the stones, use oil pastels. Remind them to be careful because the oil pastels can’t be removed, and also instruct them to use earth tones like brown, black, etc. to simulate what native people used.

DAY 3:

  1. If they didn’t paint the images on their rocks on day 2, have them do it now.
  2. If there is time the students can paint the back of their stones.
  3. If there is still more time, watch The Past We Can Never Return To

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