Stone Age Diorama


Stone Age Diorama Craft
Click the photo to view or print the pattern and instructions for the Stone Age Diorama Craft.


When I was a kid,  the Old Stone Age conjured up images of grunting, ape-like humans with wooden clubs.  They lived alongside dinosaurs.  Most of them were male.  When they spotted a female, they felt inclined to drag her around by her hair.  Thanks to Saturday morning cartoons this is how I thought our prehistoric ancestors lived.  Even the “Flintstones” included some of those goofy themes, but the women (Wilma and Betty) definitely had their own ideas and their husbands never saw hair-pulling as a way to transport their wives.

As a young adult, I was introduced to a series of books by Jean Auel.  The first title in the series was “Clan of the Cave Bear.”  The story was about a young Cro-Magnon girl named Ayla.  She had been separated from her people and was taken in and raised by a Neanderthal clan.  Eventually she is reunited with the Cro-Magnon people.  As a reader of the series, I felt a very strong connection to my prehistoric ancestors.  Jean Auel managed to make me understand that Stone Age people were…people.  The author didn’t just use her imagination to tell this story, a great deal of research went into her books.  She even participated in classes to learn how to survive in the Ice Age.

The Old Stone Age is the beginning of our human story.  We don’t know everything about it.  What we’ve learned comes from fossils and clues that were left behind and later analyzed by paleontologists, archeologists, and anthropologists.  Our prehistoric ancestors (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) roamed our primitive planet for about 30,000 years before settling into farming communities.  It’s an enormous span of time and an important story to tell.

Here are the top ten things to know about the OLD STONE AGE:

  • #10  PALEOLITHIC ERA – It means Old Stone Age; the early part of the Stone Age.  It lasted for about 2.5 million years
  • #9  ICE AGE – The Earth was extremely cold.  There were about 10 glacial periods with warmer weather in between.  It happened 110,000 to 12,000 years ago.
  • #8  PREHISTORIC MAMMALS, BIRDS, and INSECTS – During the Ice Age, many large and unusual mammals, birds, and insects (like dragonflies with 6’ wing spans) roamed the earth along-side early man.  There were lots of small and medium-sized animals, too, but no dinosaurs.
  • #7  NEANDERTHAL – A group of early humans that lived before and, for awhile, with modern man.  They were stocky and strong.
  • #6  CRO-MAGNON – The name used to describe to early modern man in France.  Scientists prefer the term European early modern humans (EEMH).
  • # 5  NOMADS – People who have no permanent home.  Early humans lived in small groups and wandered from place to place in search of food and supplies.
  • #4  CAVE ARTISTS – The people of the Old Stone Age painted pictures of animals and hands on the walls of caves.
  • #3  STONE TOOLS – Early humans used rocks to chip and shape other rocks to make useful tools and hunting equipment.
  • #2  FIRE – Humans learned to control and make fire.  Fire gave them heat and light and kept wild animals at bay.
  • #1  HUNTERS AND GATHERERS – To survive, people hunted animals for meat and fur.  They gathered wild fruits and nuts.

Some Fun Facts about the OLD STONE AGE

  • An article in National Geographic, October 9, 2013, suggests that women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings.  The hand prints found on cave walls are female hands.
  • Neanderthal were a shorter, but stronger human.  They usually lived in caves.  They cared for their sick.  They buried their dead.
  • The oldest stone tool was found in Ethiopia.  It is 2.4 million years old!
  • Flint and obsidian were used to make stone tools.
  • Flint is used in fire making.


Coffee Clay Stone Age Artifacts

Use COFFEE CLAY to make rocks, stones, and artifacts for your Stone Age display.

COFFEE CLAY RECIPE:  Mix 1/2 cup used coffee grounds, 1/4 cup cold coffee, 1/4 cup salt, 3/4 cup flour.  Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.   Add more flour if the clay is too sticky.  (Makes about 15—2” rocks.)

Give each student a ball of coffee clay and a piece of aluminum foil. Place the finished clay projects on a baking sheet (Leave them on the foil.)  Bake at 250° for 1 hour.  Let them cool.

Use the clay to make Stone Age fossil rocks.  Roll a ball of clay and press to flatten.  You can press fossils into the rocks before baking them.  (We looked at images of fossils online.  We used a toothpick to “draw” the fossils on the clay.)

Create rock beads for Stone Age jewelry.  Roll and shape small balls of clay.  Make a hole in each ball.  (We used the point of a watercolor paintbrush handle to make holes in the rock beads before we baked them.)

Make a Stone Age rock “canvas” to paint.   Flatten a large ball of coffee clay to create a rocky surface to paint on.  You don’t want it to be too smooth; make it have texture like a cave wall.  When it cools, use acrylic or tempera paint and make an animal painting.

Make some STONE AGE TRAIL MIX— Make a trail mix using dried fruits (and nuts—if you aren’t allergic).

Make the OLD STONE AGE DIORAMA CRAFT.  Click the link to view or print the PDF.

Click the link to go to the OLD STONE AGE  page on my website.  You will be able to view or print the entire Stone Age unit for FREE.  You’ll also find FREE Stone Age games and activities to print for your students.

Little Lanterns

Happy New Year!

Click the image to view or print this craft.

The History of the Magical History Tour

Celebrations connect us.  They connect us to our friends and family.  They connect us to our past.  Many of our holiday rituals have been passed on for generations.  We eat certain foods, decorate in a particular way, and participate in various activities because it’s part of the celebration.   Many times we have no idea why it’s part of the holiday, it just is, so we do it.

When I was a college student, I took several history courses.  The first was an art history and humanities class.  It connected art, literature, architecture, and music to the events of history.  It was an amazing class!  I was constantly thinking, “Why have I never heard this information?”  When I was in high school, history classes were about war and famous men who had founded, invented, and discovered everything.  The only thing I really knew about history was – it was boring!  The humanities class changed my view.  Now, I couldn’t get enough history.

Around the time my daughter started kindergarten, I started writing curriculum for reading and language arts, but I had another passion – history.  I felt like history, the human experience from beginning to present, should be a course that began in elementary school, but I didn’t even know where to start with that idea.  I talked to my mom because she’s super smart and was constantly reading and researching.  She said she’d think about it.  About a week after our conversation, she invited me over to discuss an idea she was working on.  When I walked into her house I saw 15 sheets of poster board arranged in sequence on her living room floor.  On each sheet, she had written a title and a date.  She photocopied pictures from various books and pasted the pictures onto the poster board rectangles.  In just a few months, she had created a poster timeline that would be the basis for our elementary school history program.

All of the curriculum I’ve worked on over the years has had one theme in mind: build a foundation for future learning.  I still believe in that theme.  I’ve met so many kids while working in various schools who are struggling because they never absorbed basic information and don’t have a process to place new information in their brains.  With our history program,  you introduce 13 distinct time periods in sequence, thereby creating 13 “file folders” in your students’ brains.  Once the students are familiar with how people lived and dressed and who the key players are in each time period, they will have a place to file future historical information.

I often think back on the standardized test my first graders took at the end of the school year.  One of the questions was, “Which of these illustrations is of Christopher Columbus?”  The test page had four portraits:  A. Abraham Lincoln, B. George Washington, C. Christopher Columbus, and D. Julius Caesar.  The first time I gave the test, I noticed about a fourth of the class chose Caesar.  The following year, I made sure to make a big deal over Columbus’s tights, cloak, and triangular hat.  But even with that information, there were still a few kids who chose Caesar.    I remember thinking, these kids have no connection to ancient Rome.  If they did, they’d be able to eliminate Caesar as easily as they did Washington and Lincoln.  The following year, I included a unit on ancient Rome.  That spring, 100% of my students identified Columbus on the standardized test.

History is a collection of great stories; the stories of our past.  Like celebrations, history connects us.

Another year has come to an end.  Most of us celebrated with lights, candles, and fireworks.  Lighting the winter in anticipation of spring is something that is celebrated in almost every culture.  My final craftivity is called “LITTLE LANTERNS.”   Click the link to get the template.  Light up the new year!

My blogs in 2017 will focus on history.  In the coming months, I will post a cut and paste craft, fun facts, and important vocabulary for each historical period.  Also, I plan to connect each history page on my website to the best videos, projects, and information on the web.  Get ready for the Magical History Tour!