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Cave Paintings: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Prehistoric cave paintings have been located throughout the world. In this lesson, learn about the first cave paintings ever discovered, see the locations of ancient cave paintings, and find out about the materials used to create these works of art.

What Is Cave Painting?

If you like to create art, where do you usually paint or draw? Maybe your room at home, or an art room where you have supplies close at hand. Thousands of years ago, people painted in very different places! They actually created paintings on the walls of deep, dark caves. Some of these paintings have been preserved over time, and help us to discover more about ancient people. Let's find out how these paintings were created, and where they are located in the world.

First Known Cave Art

To learn about the first known cave paintings, we have to travel back in time to the Paleolithic Era. This was a period of time that included the Ice and Stone Ages. The first known cave paintings were believed to have been created around 40,000 years ago. They were discovered in a cave called Altamira, located in northern Spain. In the 1800s, a local man decided to explore this cave. He brought his daughter, and guess what she discovered? Paintings of animals called bison on the walls of the cave.

Paintings of bison decorate the walls of Altamira cave in Spain.
cave painting

Cave Paintings Around the World

There are cave paintings that have been found throughout the world. For starters, Altamira was not the only cave with artwork discovered in Europe. Cave paintings have been found in areas of France, Germany, England, and other parts of the continent. In fact, there are nearly 400 cave painting sites in Europe.

This cave painting of hyenas is located in the Chauvet cave in France.
hyena prehistoric

But Europe is not the only area where cave paintings have been located. In Mexico, cave art has been discovered that is believed to have been created by the ancient Mayan civilization. There are also paintings that have been discovered in the caves of Australia.

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