Neolithic Revolution Cave Art Assessment

One of the standards for my grade level is for the students to demonstrate knowledge of the impact of the Neolithic Revolution. I've used the assessment described below for the last two years to assess students' knowledge of the advent of farming on early humans.

The assignment asks the students to imagine they are a Stone Age human living just after the discovery of farming (i.e. the Neolithic Revolution). The students are to create a before and after cave art style drawing/painting that depicts life before farming and how it changed after. It's helpful to show students examples of cave art. The text I use has several examples that give students a good idea of what cave art looked like. Naturally, this assessment should come after a discussion of the Old/Middle Stone Ages and the New Stone Age so they have some exposure to life before and after farming. If time is short, handouts on each could be provided, thereby making the assessment an assessment and a lesson at the same time.

The students must show four aspects of life before the Neolithic Revolution and then show how life changed after. Of course, the teacher could require more or fewer examples depending on the level of the students.

Students often seem to struggle with the idea at first. This is good. It means their brains are having to work. After they get the idea, however, the work they produce, in my experience, is great. I use a rubric to grade the assignment. The rubric includes points for each example before and after farming and for the neatness and/or visual appeal of the artwork. Not being artistically talented at all, I usually give full credit for the latter as long as the artwork is readable and colored. If I can't understand what a student has drawn, I have them label each drawing with a word or two to let me know what it depicts.

It would be relatively simple to differentiate this assignment further based on Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory. For instance, the teacher could offer the option of a song, poem, actual cave art model, diorama, etc. to allow the students to show the before/after effects of the Neolithic Revolution. I prefer to keep the cave art option because it helps drive home the concept that writing did not exist at this time in history.

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