Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

Badge 14 Stone Age Tools and Art


14. Stone Age Tools & Art

Rocks have different properties and textures. For instance, obsidian is smooth and makes flakes with razor-sharp edges, kaolin (clay) is soft and moist and easily shaped when first dug from the ground, and granite is coarse and heavy. Early humans and stone-age cultures have taken advantage of the properties of different rocks to make tools and art from them. These activities will guide you in making your own stone tools and art.

Activity 14.1: Rocks and Minerals Used as Tools

Make a list of rocks and minerals that have been used as stone tools and art. Describe the properties of each one on your list that made them useful to stone-age cultures. Collect some of the rocks or minerals on your list and show them to fellow club members.

Activity 14.2: Making Stone Tools

If you have a source for rocks such as basalt or granite in the form of large, rounded cobbles, work with your youth leader to craft clubs, tomahawks, or a grinding stone. Or watch a master flint knapper craft an arrowhead.

Activity 14.3: Making Stone Tools and Art From Clay

Try one or both of these activities. a) Roll clay into long ropes and coil it to make pots, cups, and other vessels. You can press patterns into the outside surface of your pot with your fingernails, feathers, or twigs and then bake it hard in an oven. b) Fashion beads from clay and bake them hard. Combine them with other natural materials such as wood, seeds, shells, and feathers and string them together to create necklaces and bracelets.

Activity 14.4: Making Rock Art

Pick one of these art projects to try: a) Some cultures have left paintings in caves showing animals they hunted, their own hand prints, and mysterious zig-zags and squiggles. They made paints from ground minerals mixed with water, grease, or oil. Make your own paint and create a cave painting on a large, flat stone. b) Other cultures left behind petroglyphs, or images chipped into stone. Make your own petroglyph, using a hard, pointed rock to chip images onto the flat surface of a softer rock. c) Use sands of different colors to craft a temporary design on a sidewalk or floor, or make a more permanent artwork by making a design with white glue on plywood or cardboard and sprinkling sands of different colors into your pattern.

Activity 14.5: Recording and Interpreting Rock Art

If you live near a painted cave or a petroglyph site, visit it and photograph or sketch the patterns you see. Try to determine what the rock art may be telling of how Indians lived—the animals they kept and hunted, the ways they dressed, ceremonies they held, etc. Write your thoughts in your club newsletter or give a presentation at a club meeting.

Activity 14.6: Visiting a Museum or Native American Cultural Center

Take a trip to a museum, Native American cultural center, or college archeology department that has artifacts and learn about tools that Indians fashioned and the rocks and minerals they used.