Make your own plaster artifacts for students to "play" with in your classroom social studies or art center. Step-by-step directions walk you (or a parent volunteer) through the 10-30 minute process required to make each of the following artifacts:
*plaster mortar and stone pestle (you supply the stone pestle), strong enough for grinding
*plaster "rock" that students can carve into a stone bowl
*sample plaster petroglyphs
*replica of the oldest petroglyphs on earth--cupules found in India, and another plaster rock on which students can carve their own cupules
*replica of one of the Blombos stones, and another plaster rock for student carving
*ancient art tools made from natural materials
Since the directions show step-by-step photographs, you can send them home and have parent volunteers make the items for you. A parent newsletter is included to help you solicit materials and parent help. You will need a sand box, or a large plastic tub with sand in it, because all of the plaster items are cast in sand.
The artifacts should be made a month before you plan to use them, to allow the plaster items to completely harden. It doesn't take students very long to carve a plaster rock, so they need to be as hard as can be. It usually took my 3rd and 4th grade students 3-4 days to turn a 7"-8" "rock" into a bowl, and that's when they only worked on it after their other work was finished. (Sometimes it's hard to get them to go outside during recess when these projects are around!) I'm sure your students, after playing with these materials, will have a new appreciation for the ancient artists who carved petroglyphs deep enough to last for thousands of years.
Fifteen Museum Display Cards which describe important rock art artifacts are included. Thanks for taking the time to give these materials a look!