Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Earliest People, Farming, and Domestication (Meet the Ancient World 3)

For young kids, even a very brief introduction to early humans can have a powerful effect. We started not by looking at books but by sitting together in a park and imagining life without: without electricity, machines, road, buildings, you name it. We talked at great length about the basic requirements for human survival, and how one might fashion tools, clothing, and shelter out of the materials at hand. This discussion captured their imagination so thoroughly that they were well primed to continue exploring the material in more detail with the resources below.


"Chapter 1: The Earliest People," in Susan Wise Bauer, The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 1: Ancient Times
A very accessible introduction to the nomadic life of early humans, and the advent of agriculture.

Concise, richly illustrated overviews of key topics like the discovery of fire, ice age hunting techniques, and cave art.

Jan Brett, The First Dog
The famed children's book author and illustrator Jan Brett imagines how the first wolf might have been tamed, through the tale of a young cave boy named Kip. My kids loved this one.

Jane Chisholm, Living in Prehistoric Times (Usborne First History)
OK, this 1982 book is dated, and a little hokey. But it seemed more accessible to the very young than much of what I could find at my local library. Prehistoric life is largely presented here through children's experiences, which holds an obvious appeal.

Aliki, Wild and Woolly Mammoths
This wonderful book from Aliki about prehistoric pachyderms describes in detail how early humans derived food, shelter, and clothing from woolly mammoths. The hunt scene is a little gory, but if your child isn't bothered by such things, this is a fascinating look at life in the Stone Age.


You don't need to teach a five-year-old actual flint-knapping: Just point them in the direction of some sticks and stones and you ought to get some pretty creative tool-making. This no-budget activity can keep your kids engaged for hours; decide for yourself whether just to leave them to their own devices or help them think about what tools might be required for different tasks.

Cave Painting
All you need is a big cardboard box and some magic markers to get your own little cave artists launched. I taped our box to the dining room table and covered it all with a big tablecloth to make the cave deeper and more mysterious, and gave the kids a fire (e.g., flashlight) to help them see.

For New Yorkers

If you live within striking distance of New York City, I highly recommend a field trip to the Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History. The mammoth-bone house alone is magical to see.

Are there great resources or activity ideas I missed? Please share in the comments section...

No comments:

Post a Comment