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Prehistoric Cave Painting

Prehistoric Cave Painting


Make your own prehistoric cave paint using items from around the house.


Cave Painting - Blast from the Past


Read about about the first cave paintings ever discovered and look at the pictures.


Now, have you ever thought about trying your hand at some “cave” paintings?

Prehistoric paint was created by mixing dirt, ground up rocks and animal fat. Sometimes, bits of burned wood were ground up, mixed with animal fat and used for painting as well. You can create your own prehistoric paint.


What You Need:

  • small bags
  • an old spoon
  • some old bowls or paper plates
  • vegetable shortening or lard (optional)
  • a few stiff bristle house painting brushes or old toothbrushes that no one uses anymore
  • some mural or finger painting paper
  • masking tape
  • dirt

What You Do:

  1. Go for a walk outside and using an old spoon or a garden trowel, scoop up some dirt and place it in a bag.
  2. Scoop up some more dirt and put it in a different bag — be sure to look for different colours of dirt.
  3. Once you are happy with the amount of soil you have, take it back to a work table and start to take out any bits of stones or grass.
  4. If you have an old flour sifter, this would be a good time to use it. If not, just use your hands.
  5. Using an old spoon, mash the dirt up in a bowl or tray so that it is nice and smooth (keep the colours separate).
  6. Add a spoonful of vegetable shortening to the dirt. Icky isn’t it?
  7. Add more dirt if the mixture is too light in colour.
  8. Add more shortening if the mixture is too dry.
  9. Once all the prehistoric paint is mixed up, tape some mural paper (or wrapping paper – fancy side down) on the wall or table.
  10. Using old paintbrushes or toothbrushes, start to paint!


Optional: Use colouring pencils, watercolour paints, felt tip pens. 


Did You Know: In the year 1940, four boys in France – who were playing in a field with their dog – found something very special. After their dog fell down a hole, the boys climbed in to find not only their pet – safe and sound – but caves full of prehistoric art. It was later discovered that the paintings inside the caves were more than 15,000 years old! These caves are called the Lascaux caves.


Thinking Questions:

1. How do you think the people creating the cave art could see in the cave?

2. Why did they make this art?