Recorded History of Caves Unit Pacing Guide

Day 1
Have students write down all the ways they can think of that humans have used caves throughout history. State the objective, why are we learning about different uses of caves throughout history? What should success look like for students...they will have an understanding of how and why humans have used caves from ancient times to the present. In addition, students will have an apprectiation of how man's use of caves can affect society. Start an anchor chart sorting and listing all student input.

Day 2
Review what was learned yesterday and introduce Cro-Magnon and how active they were as cave artists. View photos of art in caves such as Lascaux in France. Brainstorm how the cave art was produced in the dark underground conditions and the different materials that would have been used to create the rich colors used in the paintings. Add student input to the anchor chart and view the "Recorded History" video; revisit the anchor chart and add or delete any ideas or thoughts that may have developed viewing the materials.

Day 3
Recap learning from yesterday and discuss Native Americans and their uses of caves and conclude the discussion with the role caves played during the Civil War and the War of 1812. Next divide students into groups of 2 or 3 and have them to develop a unique way to use a cave...their use can be either in an open fashion (growing mushrooms to sell) or in a secretive way (producing gun powder). The remainder of today's time should be sent developing their concept.

Day 4
Separate everyone into yesterdays teams. Today will be spent finalizing their concepts and completing their presentations. Focus should be given to the feasability of their ideas and everything needed to put their plans in action. In addition, they should develop an idea of how they will keep their plans a secret or promote them, whichever is appropriate.

Day 5
To day is set aside for aside for team presentations. Evaluation will include participation and understanding by each of the team members. In addition students can see everything first hand through one of the classroom opportunites at Fantastic Caverns.


5E: Engagement

To guage prior knowledge, ask students to describe what they know about caves and how people have used them. This may include verbal or written information or maybe even a drawing. One idea would be to have groups of students write a fictional play about a child's life in a cave, then perform their play.

5E: Explore

Have students brainstorm all the facts that they already know about how caves have been used by people throughout history. Make an anchor chart listing all student input.


5E: Explain

Facts and Information
Recorded History of Caves

Man in Cave Country
Caves have important histories and whether we know it or not, they have affected everyone in some way. One prime example is saltpeter production. It was used to create gunpowder that was essential to the survival of the fledgling United States.

Our ancestors
Two million year old skeletal remains of Australopithecus Africanus have been found in shelter caves in Africa. They didn't live in the dark zone; rather they used the twilight zone for shelter and meals. Archeological excavations beyond the twilight zone in hundreds of caves have never found a major accumlation of artifacts.

Cave Art
Cro-Magnon man was active as a cave artist during the waning phases of the last glacial state. Using the wall in the dark zone as a canvas, he painted thousands of animal figures, many of them in realistic pose and with vivid color. For lighting Cro-Magnon used a wooden torch or a stone lamp, with marrow or fat for fuel. The lamp had a wick, perhaps of moss, and could produce a fairly bright light for several hours. The pigments used were red and yellow ochre, mixed with animal fat, black from burned bones, and manganese coating on cave walls.

It is possible the animal figures were made in the hope of ensnaring game by magic: many portray nets, spears, and traps. One remarkable fact is that cave art rarely shows a human figure and those that are shown are little more than stick figures. The artists may have believed what many primitives still believe...that a man can be hurt by mutilating a picture or figure of him.

America...early civilization
Excavations at Sandia Cave in New Mexico reveal two different cultures. The older is recorded by distinctive spearheads. A two foot layer of silt, without artifacts, covers those older spearheads. This layer contains pollen from spruce and fir trees showing that the Southwest had a cooler and moister climate than it does now.

The younger culture is represented by beautiful spearheads found above the pollen-bearing soil and under flowstone. Each of these spearheads has a smooth, shallow grove: the first points made by flaking with firm pressure rather than chipping with sharp blows. The men who used these fluted points lived about 10,000 years ago, and hunted now extinct species of wooly mammoth, peccary, bison, and camel.

(Sandia Cave type II arrowheads)

Here in Missouri, Graham Cave State Park (off I-70 between Columbia and St. Louis) is a sandstone shelter with layers of Indian artifacts. Archeologists have cut down into the layers, exposing the remains of older native cultures as they dig deeper. Indians used that cave as much as 8ooo years ago.

(Graham Cave arrowhead)

In Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, a Native American skeleton was found lying beneath a giant rock, his bundle of reeds used for light lying beside him. He had been digging out a pocket of gypsum crystals and apparently didn't notice he was also undercutting the rock ledge he was standing on.

America...the War of 1812 and the Civil War
Saltpeter is a nitrate found in some dry cave soils, apparently left in the soil by nitrogen fixing bacteria. The mining and processing was very ingenious. Miners piled cave soil into giant hoppers, then ran water through the soil to dissolve and carry out the nitrates. The next step was to boil off the water and saltpeter crystals were left behind. Saltpeter is the major ingredient in gunpowder, along with smaller amounts of charcoal and sulfur.

At times early in our Nation's history gunpowder was in high demand and became hard to acquire. During the American Civil War and the War of 1812 caves were of vital importance. Without them gunpowder would have been very hard to come by, even by our fledgling government.
During more recent history Americans have been innovative with their use of caves. Caves have been used to grow mushrooms, "air-condition" buildings above ground, provide shelter from nuclear fallout, and to act as concert halls. In modern times caves are being used in many ways...mass food storage, paper document storage, and computer server housing to name a few. By far the largest use for caves in modern history has been to operate them as vacation attractions.

(formations inside Lechuguilla Cave)

New caves are found often; in Missouri we find them at a rate of 80-100 per year. Some are very small and some aren't. Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico was found in 2013 and has been surveyed at over 60 miles long. Drawn to the adventure, people known as spelunkers enjoy visiting all types of caves that aren't open to the public. In some ways caves are a last frontier...there are very few places left on Earth that haven't been explored...and a newly discovered cave is just that.

When entering a "wild cave" there are a few safety rules that everyone must follow:

  1. Never go alone. You should always be in a group with one experienced caver as the leader.
  2. Take at least three sources of light for each person. In addition you should take extra supplies for the lighting such as batteries and bulbs.
  3. Dress in rugged, protective clothing: coveralls, boots, helmet, gloves, etc.
  4. Make sure people know where you are and when you expect to return.
  5. Always have the cave-owner's permission in advance.
  6. Don't go into a wild cave when it's raining or going to soon. Some caves can flood very quickly.
  7. Realize that caves are easily damaged and non-renewable. The caver's motto is to...take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints; kill nothing but time.


5E: Expand

Divide students into teams of 2-3 to complete the Recorded History...Cave Art activity.


5E: Evaluate


Recorded History Study Questions

1. People who explore caves are called ___________________________________________
2. Why would someone want to explore a cave? _____________________________________
3. Ancient cave artists in Europe drew pictures of _________________________ on cave walls.
4. Cro-Magnon used pigments made from manganese and red/yellow _______________, mixed with black from _____________ _____________ to paint on cave walls.

5. __________________________ was mined and used to make gunpowder during the _______________ _______________.
6. While excavating ancient artifacts at ______________________, New Mexico the layers of earth show that the southwest had a much cooler climate with spruce and fir trees.
7. Here in Missouri one of the caves used by Native Americans was _______________________.
Artifacts in the soil have been dated to _____________________ years ago.
8. List three uses for a cave.
9. In Missouri new caves are discovered at a rate of _______ to _______ per year.
10. Name the caving safety rules.