Make Your Own Prehistoric Cave Paint

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Kids can make their own prehistoric cave paint using items from around the house.

By Andrea Mulder-Slater [Andrea is co-founder of]

Blast from the Past

Have you or your students ever looked at pictures of prehistoric paintings? You have? Great! 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
  • tempera paint (optional)

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 color.
  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!
  11. If you are feeling really adventurous, you can go outside and find a big rock or boulder to paint on.

Optional: Add some tempera paint to the dirt for a touch of colour.

make your own cave paint make your own cave paint

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.



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