2.5 million years of historical learning in the comfort of your school
Pupils will learn ..
•About the features of the Mesolithic period
•About the effects of small communities forming with more organisation and better tools
This lesson covers the interim Mesolithic (literally meaning middle) period which is sometimes problematic for pre-historians as the timing of it varies over the globe. It is best described to pupils as a journey between the old and new Stone Ages, with features of both.
Introduction: Mesolithic recap
Remind pupils that the Mesolithic had the following features:
•10,000 to 4,000 BC in Britain (varies in other parts of the world)
•Homo Sapiens (i.e. us) the only human species left in existence
•The end of the Ice Age
•More complex tools with handles etc
•The early beginnings of more settled communities and farming
•Simple shelters/buildings made of trees, furs, leaves, some stone and other natural resources
As for the Paleolithic lesson, briefly cover the impact of these events, explaining how humans were becoming more intelligent and were taking advantage of the retreating ice to hunt in forests in small bands; these then turned into (very basic) farming communities with more complex weapons and tools such as handled axes (as opposed to stone hand axes from the Paleolithic).
Possible activity 1: (Literacy) a postcard from the Stone Age
Ask pupils to pretend that they have gone back in time to the Mesolithic period and that they are going to write a postcard back to their family in the present day. What sights, sounds, smells and textures would they encounter?
Possible activity 2: (Art) Magnificent cave art
Stone Age cave art provides a magnificent learning opportunity for primary classrooms and it is very easy to do. Introduce by showing pupils the many examples from places such as Cresswell crags in Derbyshire (first British cave art of a carved Ibis dated 8,500 BC) or the Lascaux caves in France, both of which can be found with a google search. You can then either use lining paper, canvas or white paper died with tea/coffee then dried for pupils to create their own cave paintings using chalk or oil pastels. A great idea is to stick them to the bottom of tables and ask them to lie down to do it above them like the real cavespeople!
Possible activity 3: (Art) Making Stone tools
Making stone tools might seem daunting but in fact they are one of the easiest history art projects you can do. Start by looking at examples of flint tools (many thousands of pictures are available on the net and there are also many youtube videos on real flint ‘knapping’).
With regards to actual 'tool' making, to make a flint effect you can use scrunched up paper, unfolded and formed into triangles; clay cut with a plastic knife to give flattened ‘lithic’ (meaning stone) faces; or actual small flat stones (garden centre or beach!) tied to pieces of twigs for mini arrows or axes.
Come back together for feedback as a class about each event.