Arts and Ancestors

Grades  3-12

This program provides hands-on experience of the universal arts, crafts and skills shared by all our ancient ancestors. We teach the basics of making art from natural raw materials, the crafts our ancestors used to make beautiful objects for everyday use, and the skills of using the most ancient technology to make that most basic of human tools, fire. These skills, crafts and tools are commonly represented in many archaeological sites all over the world, so are not tied to any specific ancestral lineage. Every human alive to day has ancestors who, at one time or another, used these skills to survive, so we teach these skills in the context of gratitude for all our ancestors.

The setup consists of four activity stations, with one or two adult volunteers at each station. Each station houses an activity relating to a different aspect of arts and culture: visual arts, craft, and fire. Each station can take up to ten students at a time. We will move indoors in inclement weather.

Our program starts with a quick training session for at least four faculty or parent chaperones to each supervise one of the four activity stations. Then we gather with the students and staff for an opening circle, story, and a walkthrough of each station. The students are then divided into even groups and sent to activity stations, and allowed to rotate through so that everyone gets a hands-on experience of each activity. After station rotations, we gather for a closing circle and reflect on what we learned.

Maximum participation is 40 students per session, and the program is either a half or a full day of hands-on learning.


Stations include:  

Visual Arts

Humans have been making our world beautiful for thousands of years. For two of the stations, schools can choose from a menu of 10 different arts options. Students may pound their own earthen pigments and, combining pigment with hide glue or egg yolk binder, and paint their original designs on plaster fresco, stones or wood. Or they may scuplt their own unfired clay figurines, or weave a cattail placemat, or make their own paper. Choose arts options that connect with your school’s curriculum!


Have you ever gone camping and forgot the rope? Human ancestors couldn’t go to the hardware store to buy this necessity. Learn to make it from plants!

Fire by friction

Our ancestors learned to spark fire by rubbing sticks together, and changed human history forever. Cooking, light, warmth, and ecological management have been part of our skillsets ever since. Take on the challenge of making fire like our ancestors!

Grades  3-12