Cave Painting

cave painting craft

Don’t you think it would be cool to find a cave and discover a long lost treasure?! In The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux by Emily Arnold McCully a group of boys do just that! They discovered perfectly preserved cave paintings of animals estimated to be 17 thousand years old! Caves are fascinating from a geological standpoint and also for their ability to hide and preserve something so old!

Cave Painting Book for Kids


We really enjoy nonfiction picture books and Emily Ronald McCully writes and illustrates some great ones! We also really like The Escape of Oney Judge and Marvelous Mattie.  Her art is stylistically beautiful and it manages to not sacrifice visual description which I think is pretty tough to do!

We visited the Polar Caves in New Hampshire this past fall for my daughter’s birthday. It was actually pretty scary climbing through those glacial caves. I can only imagine how scary it must have been for those boys descending deeper and deeper into Lascaux.

There are some great images online of the cave painting from Lascaux and other prehistoric cave art but seeing them in their 3D environment is so much more powerful.

Check out this virtual tour…

I think it is pretty cool to see how the paintings look as you are moving through the space!

Want to learn more?  Watch this trailer for Cave of Forgotten Dreams. In it the Chauvet Cave is explored. Its paintings are estimated to be 30,000 years old! These are among the oldest known. I streamed it from Netflix and it was fascinating!  It is seriously dark in there! I wonder how these artists were able to work with just torches for light.

One thing is for certain, we are not going to make any cave discoveries on our sandy spit of land here on Cape Cod, so we had to get a little creative and make our own!

Cave Painting Craft

What you’ll need…

  • Brown paper bag
  • Carbon paper
  • Cardboard
  • Scrap paper
  • Tape
  • Pastels
  • Flashlight

Here’s how…

  1. Tape a sheet of carbon paper face up to a piece of cardboard that will fit in your bag
  2. Tape a piece of scrap paper to the outside of the bag (make sure it is lined up with the carbon paper)
  3. Draw your cave painting outline with a dull pencil (make sure to press firmly)
  4. When you are finished with your drawing remove carbon paper and scrap paper
  5. If you like, reach in your cave and add color with pastels; make it look like paint by smudging with your finger (you may need to shine your flashlight in to see what you are doing)
  6. Now crumble your bag just a little to create a rocky texture inside your “cave”
  7. To get a realistic look inside your cave, turn off the lights and shine a flashlight inside!

Historians have theories about why these prehistoric paintings were created in caves that are so difficult to access. Some think they had a religious or ceremonial purpose. Others think maybe they were created to bring hunting success though magic. And some think they were simply young men’s hunting fantasies.  What do you think?

What will you paint in your cave and why? Please share!

Also check out this new book.  In it the first person/kid to get the idea to draw is imagined.  It is a fun one that really transports you in time!

The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


    • Thanks! Yes, it looks to be a computer rendered tour. I searched for something similar of the actual Lascaux but couldn’t find one. I know the actual cave is closed to the public but that you can tour a replica. Might be worth doing on our next visit to France!

  1. AH MAG GAH. I just today bought a pieve of flagstone at Home Depot to do a cave painting project. TODAY. That is weird, and we are connected. Your project looks much cooler than the one I have conjured up, but I’ll link to yours anyway. AT the rate I’m going, I probably won’t get mine up until summer anyway….

    I remember being completely blown away by Altamira in freshman art history lecture.
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted..Get Your Photo Groove OnMy Profile

    • Your version sounds like the real deal! Will definitely link to yours too! Art history lecture was amazing! I was such a dope though at all that memorizing!

    • Thanks! I really do love her books! She has one that won a Caldecott too called Mirette on the High Wire. I want to check that one out.

      Also forgot to mention your cave art will be a mirror image of what you draw so kept that in mind especially if you want to add text.

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