Early Humans for Teachers
Activities and Projects
These are activity and project ideas for kids and teachers to use in your unit study of early humans. These activities can be adjusted for any grade. We hope you'll find some ideas you can use.
Cave Painting for the Classroom:
Preparation Materials: : Charcoal or chalk, tape, brown paper bags (1 or 2 per student)
Preparation Instructions: The day before this activity, tell kids to wear slacks or jeans the next day.
Day of Activity Instructions: Darken the room. Have the students wad up a paper bag and tape it to the bottom of their desk. (Wadding the bag will give the surface a rough feel, like a cave wall.) If anyone needs help wadding, get the kids to help those who are having difficulty. Have the students crawl under their desks. Then have them draw local animals on the paper bags. Display the bags on a bulletin board, putting them close together like the wall of a cave. With my younger classes, I add hand prints using construction paper and scissors.
More ideas for cave paintings and what cave paintings tell us about the Stone Age and early humans
Discovery of Fire, A Play for the Classroom: The Discovery of FIRE!
Tools: Students work in groups to create time capsules that represent tools made and used by early humans. Here are some tools for your time capsule.
Vocabulary Foldables with Charades: Vocabulary Charades
A Day in the Life: Timeline, group activity: Use rolls of brown paper. Size of timelines will depend upon where you place them after completed to display them. You can run a diorama around your classroom, one timeline after another. If the school approves, you can also place these on hallway walls on both sides of your classroom. Instructions: Working in groups, each group is assigned a different primitive human - boy, girl, man, woman - and role. Each timeline is for one 24-period in their human's life. Groups may be assigned the same primitive human. Tell the kids all humans will be dressed. Time period: It's the Stone Age, during the late fall. The timeline must include time they got up, dressed in what, food, weapons, activities during the day, roles within the community, any fears and concerns their human primitive might have. Tell them to include what kind of berries, what kind of animal(s). Be brief but detailed in your text. The timeline is a mix of text and illustrations. Once completed, each group presents their timeline to the class.
Eras: Eras Scavenger Hunt using stations you set up around the classroom.
Online Game Day: Early Humans - Games and Interactive Learning Sites for Kids. I set this activity to work by creating a scavenger hunt sheet of things for kids to find in the sites listed on their exploration sheet. The kids have to site the source for each scavenger find for verification.
Prehistory Activities - Voc Quiz, Early Language Activity, Illustrated Booklets
Analyze Artifacts: Become an anthropologist and analyze artifacts from this time period.
Choose Your Own Adventure from over 70 different classroom activities and possible assignments
Science and Social Studies Team Activities
Sticks and Stones, prehistory technology - you might want to team teach this one with your science teacher. It's also a great way to show the difference between fossils (science) and artifacts (social studies), by pointing at the science teacher who bows when the kids shout "fossils", and the pointing at the social studies teacher who bows when the kids shout "artifacts".
Teacher Activity: For early humans, I put a brown arch around my door with heavy construction paper, like the entrance to a cave. I have a sign above my door that says: THE STONE AGE. I staple pertinent things on the cardboard around my door like the outline of a hand, a saber toothed tiger, a wooly mammoth, a stone tipped wood spear, a bush with berries, a campfire - anything to do with early humans. That way, each time the kids enter my classroom, they enter the Stone Age. It's silly, but it helps to keep them on track.
After or Before you complete your unit on early humans, you need a week or so for a mini-unit on archaeology with activities. That's when you set up a dig. I like doing the archaeology before early humans. That way I can move from early humans to agricultural societies smoothly, starting with ancient Mesopotamia. But either works - before or after, but - for new teachers - you do want to include your archaeology unit towards the early part of the school year.
See Also: Lesson Plans for Early Humans