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Pictograph Stone Carving Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #:AELP-ARA0013
Submitted by: Penny P. Olson
Endorsed by: Don Descy
Mankato State University Date: May 13, 1997

Grade Level(s): 3, 4, 5


  • Arts/Visual Arts
  • Social Studies


This is a wonderful extension activity to be used for Social Studies, Language Arts, or Art. As a finished product, this project is made to resemble an authentic stone carving created by the Native Americans or Egyptians for use in communication. The student uses the information they have learned about early methods of communication (pictographs, petrographs, hieroglyphics) and apply it to the creation of their own message or story in the stone.


The students will learn a method of communication used by ancient Egyptian or Native American tribes.


As an extension activity to an Egyptian or Native American Unit on communication, the students will experience a method of communication used by ancient tribes. The students will use the symbols appropriate to the culture studying to create their own message or story in the slab of stone.

Background Information:

This activity can be used with students of all levels as it can be easily modified to any grade. There is a very minimal safety factor, due to the fact that the carving is done with a pencil or a blunt object such as the end of a paint brush.


Students will be able to:

1. Relate the information studied about Native American or Egyptian symbols to create their own message.

2. Students will learn about the primary method of communication used by ancient cultures.


  • styrofoam sheet 10Sx12Sx1/2S
  • pale peach spray paint
  • acrylic paint in assorted primary colors
  • paint brush pencil or blunt-end object
  • container for water to rinse paint brush

Procedure: (Teacher preparation: Break off the sides of the styrofoam sheet to create irregular edges. Spray the styrofoam surface lightly with peach spray paint and let dry.)

1. Using a pencil or blunt object (such as the end of a paint brush), etch out a variety of Indian or Egyptian symbols to create a story or message.

2. Using a paint brush, paint brown inside the etched lines to outline each symbol.

3. Using the various colors of acrylic paint, paint each symbol within the brown lines.

4. If desired, brown paint can be wiped around the sides of the styrofoam to create an aged appearance.


1. Ask the students to share their stone carvings with the class.

2. Determine if appropriate symbols are represented in the message or story.

3. Review the specific cultures that used stone to communicate in.

4. Talk about the different methods (such as animal hide) that were used to communicate among the ancient cultures.

Useful Internet Resources:

The Ancient Egypt Site

Egyptology Resources