Early Humans (Cavemen to First Farmers)

History continues with a fun lesson on early humans. I really enjoyed teaching this lesson and getting to share my travel memories with the family. 1024px-Font-de-Gaume_entree

When I was in high school I traveled with my French class to France for a two week emersion travel tourism experience. My teacher, Madame Welch was the best, she had a close friend who previously worked for a touring company but always lead our group on the side. This meant that we got to get off the beaten path and explore places that most tourist never make it.bisonfdgOne of these such places was Font-de-Gaume, it is the only site in France with polychrome cave paintings that are still open to the public. A limited number of people are aloud in each year to protect the drawings from exposure to lights and changes in air circulation.gaume1

Everyone thought it was so cool that I got to see these in real life and Eden has now asked several times if we can travel there so she too can see them. She has had an interest in France for awhile but it is now at the top of her list.

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Using paper bags and a drawing guide we all took a try at drawing the figures that can be found on the cave walls. While the kids drew I explained that some of the drawings that are found in the cave were created by kids their age. They thought it was great that there are small hand prints and many areas that they think are from children.

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Secretly I had been preparing a special cave area under our stairs where we normally store the Christmas decorations. I surprised the kids by covering the walls and floor with cardboard that they could draw on. We did this lesson three weeks ago and they still enjoy drawing, playing, and using this space for quiet reading. Eden even took it a step farther and added details such as a brown pillow that is a “log”, a leopard print blank as “her animal skin blanket”, and a green bowl she is pretending is a turtle shell for eating.

9.5-Madison-14I also created “animal skin” clothing for each of the kids.

History is so much fun when you get to make it come to life.

One of our main history texts is the Story of the World. story of the worldEach lesson is taught through story and after reading the kids always have so much fun acting out what they have learned.

Besides living in caves we learned that these early nomads would have also had tents that they used when moving from place to place or when the weather was warm.

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We learned that these nomads were hunter gathers and that they think that the children probably helped with this task. Remains have been found were children had gathering bags and remains of food.

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After learning what their typical diet would have been I set up an activity were the kids had to gather all the ingredients for our ancient dinner. Some of the items, like blueberries, I packed in baggies to keep them from getting too dirty.

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Oh boy, was this a hit. All three ran around the yard searching for food. They even found sticks and a rock to use as tools for hunting. The green item Rylynn is holding is a bean bag lizard I made for a different lesson but worked well in this activity because our story taught us that lizards would have been part of their regular diet.

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Most of the food items I hid around the yard but the root vegetables they were able to gather from our garden. At this point we started talking about the discovery of farming and how having a garden and food they could harvest would have been a lot easier than moving from place to place.

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That night we had “lizard stew” (chicken) with berries and a biscuit. While early nomads would have not been able to enjoy bread once they learned to farm grains were more easily harvested and would have become part of their diet. While cooking this meal we had a nice discussion on how much more difficult it would have been to cook a meal like this using only stone tools, a fire pit, and limited cooking vessels.

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Another important discussion was on the importance of fire. When Eli heard me say you could use two sticks rubbed together to create a fire, I guess his manly instincts took over and he was already to give it a go.

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While it wasn’t as much fun as creating a real fire we did have fun creating these painted fire art creations using a fork. Sorry there is no finished picture but you get the idea.