Freedom Elementary Hallway Becomes Stone Age Cave

Freedom Elementary Hallway Becomes Stone Age Cave
Posted on 10/05/2020
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How do you get sixth-graders excited about studying the Stone Age?

Transform the hallway by your classroom into a cave.

Freedom Elementary social studies teacher Regan Hagemeier explained to her students that they would spend the school year travelling all over the Eastern Hemisphere studying world civilizations. Students created passports as part of this “Freedom Trek,” using those passports to take brief notes about what was unique about each civilization. Their first destination was to be Mesopotamia.

Hagemeier cautioned that while taking any journey, it’s important to be prepared and to be flexible as there are sometimes twists, turns and bumps that happen along the way.

“The cave was definitely one of the first twists, turns and bumps they have experienced,” said Hagemeier. “When we ‘arrived’ I posted a picture from a house from the Stone Age and we brainstormed where we might be because it didn’t match up with my preview of Mesopotamia at all.”

She said that stopping in the Stone Age was the perfect way to kick off studying civilizations. Before starting their first civilization study on ancient Mesopotamia, she wanted students to understand that before any civilization came about, people were nomadic.

During this trip to the Stone Age, her students learned that life was very different back then. At first, it was difficult for them to imagine what life was like without cell phones and computers. It was even harder for them to understand that at first, rocks were the best option for tools. Since communication during the Stone Age was through drawings on cave walls, she had students introduce themselves with sketches of what was important to them. Those drawings were then added to the cave’s walls.

“The more we talked about it, it was great to hear students remind each other ‘no you can’t include that in your drawing, remember, they don’t have that yet’,” said Hagemeier. “It was a huge mind shift for them and I think they rose to the challenge and were able to imagine what ‘roughing it’ was really like.”

The cave is something that not only the sixth grade can enjoy, but anyone that walks through the hallway. Hagemeier added, “Hearing reactions when someone identified with a sketch that was displayed was so cool! It was definitely a way to show similarities between students without even needing to verbalize it.”

Hagemeier was really surprised at the reactions from both students AND teachers as they walked through the cave. She heard some teachers say, “‘I can’t wait to bring my kids down this hall! They are going to love this!” And she knew she accomplished her goal of getting her students excited about the Stone Age with comments like these:

“Woah! This looks so cool. It’s like a real cave.”

“It actually gets darker when you walk through it!”

Parents also reached out to Hagemeier thanking her for making social studies so much fun for their children.

“I will absolutely be doing this again next year,” added Hagemeier. “And stay tuned, because I already have a couple of ideas I’m thinking about for the next stops on our Freedom Trek!”