At Locust Valley Middle School, students are learning about history by repeating it. The process of creating their own cave paintings has helped one social studies class to understand this ancient art first-hand.

Mrs. Mason’s sixth-grade social studies class participated in a collaborative lesson with art teacher Mrs. Mooney. During a unit on cave paintings, students not only learned how to analyze these pictures, but also learned how to create them. “The students explore and invent what cave art tells us about how early humans lived and why they made art,” explained Mrs. Mooney. “They benefit from the collaboration between art and English language arts because they are empowered to see cave art from two different perspectives.”

While Mrs. Mason worked with half the class teaching them how to understand cave drawings, Mrs. Mooney taught the other half of the class how to express their ideas with paint in the same way that cave art expressed the hope, dreams, and grief of our ancestors 20,000 years ago. “Cave art is so fascinating. The capacity for abstract thought is part of what makes us human. We can see that kind of thinking evolve on the walls of caves thousands of miles away,” said Mrs. Mason.