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In this study of rock art, the students will:

Age Level: Grades K-6



For each student or group of students, a large brown paper bag or a roll of brown paper cut into sections.  Any drawing implements like pens, paints, crayons, markers, pencils can be used.



Petroglyph: a design chiseled or chipped out of a rock surface

Pictograph: a design painted on a rock surface

Deface: to spoil or mar the surface or appearance of something

Vandalism: willful or malicious defacing or destruction of public or private property

Rock art: general term for an image found on rock surfaces

Rock art panel: a group of rock art images


People living over the entire world and in virtually every culture made rock art. It has been found in caves, on cliff walls, and on boulders. Some rock art is as old as 30,000 years. Rock art occurs in modern America as well. The most common modern rock art is painted on the concrete and brick walls in our cities and on bridge abutments and rock faces along highways. This art expresses the values, attitudes, beliefs, and desires of the people who created it. As members of the artists’ society, we may or may not understand what the representations mean.  Regardless of our views of modern rock art, prehistoric rock art also means something to whomever put it there, but the archaeologist may not know its original intent.

In Wyoming, we have lots of different types of rock art.  They can be pictographs, designs painted on rocks, or petroglyphs, designs chipped or chisled into rocks.  Rock art can be found alone or in large panels comprised of many different figures.  A type of rock art unique to Wyoming is the Dinwoody Tradition.  These petroglyphs are found in and nearby the Bighorn Basin in north-central Wyoming.  They are very large – some even three feet tall!  They usually show anthropomorphic (human-like), animal, or abstract images that may have pecked interior lines, wings, headdresses, or horns. Some researchers believe the images were made by shamans or represent the religious or supernatural beliefs of prehistoric people. Rock art is difficult to date, but the Dinwoody Tradition spans from the Early Archaic through the Historic Periods, approximately 4500-500 BP.


Fine and Performing Arts:

FPA4.1.A.1/FPA8.1.A.1: Students create and revise original art to express ideas, experiences, or stories

FPA4.1.A.2: Students investigate and apply a variety of materials, resources, technologies, and processes to communicate experiences and ideas through art

FPA4.1.A.3: Students apply the elements and principles of design to their artwork

FPA4.1.A.4/FPA8.1.A.4: Students collaborate with others in creative artistic processes

FPA4.1.A.5/FPA8.1.A.5: Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner

FPA4.1.A.6/FPA8.1.A.6: Students complete and exhibit their artwork

FPA4.2.A.1: Students observe and describe in detail the physical properties of works of art

FPA4.2.A.2/FPA8.2.A.2: Students respond to (or interpret) art using vocabulary that describes subjects, themes, and symbols (which communicate their knowledge of context, values, and meaning)

FPA4.2.A.3/FPA8.2.A.3: Students describe (and analyze) works of art using the language of artistic elements and principles

FPA4.3.A.1: Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationship to various cultures

FPA4.3.A.3: Students understand that history, environment, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other

FPA8.3.A.3: Students analyze, describe, and relate how factors of culture, time, and environment influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art

FPA4.4.A.1: Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum

Social Studies

SS2.2.1/SS.5.2.1/SS8.2.1: Name the ways groups meet human needs and concerns and contribute to personal identity and daily life

SS2.2.2/SS.5.2.2: Recognize (identify and describe) ways in which expressions of culture influence people

SS5.2.3: Identify and describe characteristic and contributions of local and state cultural groups in Wyoming

SS2.6.1/SS5.6.1: Identify what kinds of information can be found in different resources; Use various resources in order to address a question or solve a problem

SS2.6.3/SS5.6.3/SS8.6.3: Use digital tools to learn about social studies concepts/Use digital tools to research, design, and present social studies concepts.