It’s difficult for children not to get excited about the Stone Age when they start to learn what everyday life was like years ago. Living off the land by hunting and foraging, moving with animal herds to stay alive, carving knives out of flint, and building mud huts don’t sound too distant from some games you see being played in the playground today.
Teaching children about the Stone Age not only gives them an understanding of the beginnings of infrastructure and society but also an inspiring look back through history to our roots as a species and the incredible journey we’ve taken to the modern-day.
Throw a Stone Age Day at School
What better way to give students a truly immersive experience of the Stone Age than to throw a Stone Age-themed day at school. Getting young kids to learn about history through interactive means brings the subject to life in a way that often simply can’t be achieved through descriptive writing, records, or videos. By holding a Stone Age Day you can help students get into character and live the life of a Stone Age person. Here are some things you might want to include:
Costumes: ask parents to help out in creating a Stone Age outfit for their child to wear to school. Think about faux fur, suede, and leather to mimic animal furs and skins. Fake animal bone jewellery, and clay or plasticine beads. This doesn’t have to require a huge amount of effort, though, brown T-shirts and trousers also look quite Stone Age! Children will have fun messing up their hair with hair spray and putting on make-up to look muddy (even a bit of real mud wouldn’t go amiss!).
Food: most of the Stone Age saw people hunting and foraging for food. It wasn’t until the end of the period that people started to grow their own produce and make foodstuffs like bread. Encourage the children to think about what sorts of foods they could forage for in England. Ask them what, besides berries, grows naturally in the UK. You might want to make a buffet table of all different types of ‘foraged’ foods for the children to snack on. Try making some special Stone Age desserts using the food you’ve gathered. You could make this experience even more exciting by providing some rustic bowls for them to use.
Decorate the classroom: transport your classroom back to the Stone Age by decorating it in ‘animal skins’ (Animal Print Faux Fur), you could also put up some posters and flashcards around the classroom for children to look at and learn more interesting facts about Stone Age life through the day, our Stone Age to Iron Age History Display Pack is ideal for this. Drape some green ribbon or fabric across the doorway to the classroom to make a curtain of foliage, making entering on Stone Age Day more exciting.
Combine classroom decorating with a fun activity by coating one of the classroom walls in cream coloured display paper and hold a cave painting exercise. Teaching Ideas has some more fun Stone Age Day Ideas for activities to carry out on Stone Age Day, including writing a guide on how to survive the Stone Age and creating a video report on a normal Stone Age day. Perhaps you could help the children film footage for the video report on the day which could turn into a group activity afterwards.
Other useful Stone Age Teaching Resources for Primary School
As a jumping-off point when planning lessons about the Stone Age, this Teaching Packs guide is rather useful. Here, teachers can find some quickfire topics and activities to slot into lesson plans. Organised by ideas, videos, resources, facts, and books, teachers of the Stone Age will be able to pick and choose which medium suits their class. Activities include making a Stone Age axe out of paper mache, to popular reading material to add to your reading corner.
Deep in the Ardeche, Chauvet Cave is a hot spot for some of the most well-preserved figurative cave paintings in the world, and some other artefacts from Paleolithic life. On the link above, scroll through to see the mysterious paintings on the walls of the cave. You can also follow along to a virtual reality tour with magical narration with a VR headset if your school has one.
The page also includes a list of animated games which give kids more context as to what life was like in the Stone Age. Combine a tour of the fantastic Chauvet Cave paintings with a show and tell using some ‘real’ Stone Age artefacts that come with posters, photo cards, a timeline, and a guide to creating your own roundhouse.
KS2 History offers a range of downloadable resources to supplement lessons about the Stone Age. Here teachers not only find lesson packs but recommended age-appropriate reading material and videos. There is a choice of full lesson plans to cover the whole of the Stone Age topic, or individual lessons and resources. The website also features a huge topic guide, great for inspiration when coming up with activities and exercises.
KS2 History offers similar resources for learning about other ages in history, like Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Anglo Saxons. Once your students have covered the Stone Age, test their knowledge with a game of Stone Age to Iron Age Snap.
Teach children ages seven to 11 all about the Stone Age in one go with this neat lesson pack from Tes. This download includes a 28 slide PowerPoint presentation. This is supported by 9 differentiated worksheets with exercises for students to demonstrate their understanding of the things they’ve learned. This is a great lesson pack to grab and get started on, coming with blank working and answering sheets so all you need to do is print out copies for the class. This would be an ideal lesson pack for a supply teaching lesson.
Rather more of a resource for teachers to benefit from, this page on the British Heritage website includes all sorts of tips, ideas, and advice from historians and experts on teaching primary school children about the Stone Age. From how to break down bite-sized pieces of information to help kids get their heads around an entirely different way of life, to using examples and hands-on activities that children can relate to, this page helps teachers approach the Stone Age with their classes to help them get the most out of each lesson.
Top Stone Age Videos for Primary School
Introduction to The Stone Age
From Past Productions, this video starts at the very beginning, breaking down where the world was in its lifetime when the Stone Age came around. It discusses the fundamentals of life in the Stone Age, and what sorts of animals existed that you wouldn’t see today.
What If You Had to Live a Day in the Stone Age
From the innovative Bright Side channel, this video discusses what it would be like if you were suddenly transported to the Stone Age. Kids will love following along with this video thinking about how each part of their life you be different from morning to bedtime.
Stone Age Farming and Homes
Led by BBC Teach, this video, aimed at primary school children, talks about the types of foods stone age people caught, gathered, and ate, and what happened when farming started to come into the picture towards the end of the Stone Age.
The Stone Age for Kids
From Bedtime History, and similar to the Bright Side video above, this video asks what it would be like to live as a child during the stone age. This video makes for a great meditative exercise that creates a calm atmosphere. You could schedule this video to play at the end of the day and have all the children close their eyes and imagine along with the narration.