By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
First graders at North East Carolina Prep School (NECP) wielded prehistoric tools and painted the walls of a manmade cave outside the school Wednesday afternoon.
“For the past two weeks, we’ve been learning about cave art,” said Brianna Kiefer, K-4 art teacher. “They learned about different tools that the prehistoric people used…sticks, moss, shells. They had to hunt around and see what they could find.”
The idea of the project was for people in the future to look at the artwork and be able to tell what life was like at NECP in 2013.
“It’s a way to preserve our story,” Kiefer said.
Everyday life was a central theme for the students’ artwork.
“I painted me on the seesaw and a butterfly,” said Paige Fortier. “I was playing with Ginger, my puppy.”
C.J. Housand Jr. did a self-portrait, while Colton Lewis drew an image of himself running during recess.
Kiefer talked with the children about the everyday themes that figured in the cave art in Lascaux, France, which is thought to be the “oldest human art work,” and the children took a virtual tour of the caves. Animal paintings were common in the cave art, and first-grader George Pendleton followed that theme.
“I painted cows fighting,” Pendleton said. “They (people in the future) can look and see how animals fight for their food.”
As part of the prehistoric project, the first-graders also had a chance to leave their handprint in paint on a manmade wall outside the school.
“We talked about how they (prehistoric people) didn’t have alphabet or writing. They had to sign their name through handprint. Their handprint is like their artist’s signature,” Kiefer said.
Before the children created the cave artwork, they learned about what life was like for prehistoric cavemen.
“They didn’t have any money or any houses or any stores,” Pendleton said. “They made houses out of trees.”
“They write with some stuff, but not our stuff – like a feather, sticks,” said Nevaueh Miller.
Miller painted an image of herself in yellow, playing with story cards, on the wall of the cave.
Diane LeFiles, director of communication for NECP, referred to the art project as “experiential learning.”
“At this school, the curriculum crosses the disciplines. Although this was an art project, it incorporated communication, it incorporated history, and other areas of the curriculum,” LeFiles said.
“I’m hoping that they take away most importantly how art is a form of communication, and a universal form of communication,” Keifer said.
She wants to impress upon her students an “inventor” mindset so that they continue to create and explore the world around them.