Adventures in Pre-History was the title of a home school workshop we attended last week at Segedunum Roman Fort where the captivating education team explained how people lived in the Stone Age using a time-line activity, willow weaving, woad-style face painting, dressing up and clay pot making.
Outdoors we were shown some fascinating ways to survive in the wild – techniques our ancestors used as they moved from hunter-gathering to farming. I’m sharing them here as they are easy to do at home or in the woods as excellent activities to try with would-be kids of the wild.
Ploughing with antlers
An ingenious way to speed up the seed-planting process which enabled stone age people to plant more food in less time. Look out for naturally shed antlers on your walks in the wild during spring, as deer shed theirs annually usually by April.
This little Roe Deer antler I found in the Cotswolds wouldn’t work quite as well as the larger Red deer antlers we used.
Building a tipi shelter
Bamboo canes replaced the branches that would have been used in the past. They are tied together with leather straps, ivy or the inner stems of stinging nettles – don’t try this without thick gloves on! For strength the straps are wound between each stick rather than being wrapped around the whole bunch together.
Quarter-fill a plastic tupperware (not very stone age – they’d have used wooden bowls and twig whisks) with full fat cream and then shake until you can no longer hear the cream slopping around. Then shake some more until it separates and you can once again hear liquid moving. The cream is now gone and you are left with buttermilk liquid and a ball of buttery fat. In days gone this would be done with creamy milk but our modern homogenized milk isn’t fatty enough so you need to use cream.
Butter churning was never so much fun!
None of us managed a flame but there was a distinct smell of hot smoke and a few glowing embers here and there. Making a daily fire in this way would certainly have kept our ancestors fit. The stick is flattened on one side to provide better friction when being rubbed vigorously over the groove on the base wood.
Stone ground flour
This is harder than it looks for small hands and arms – our wild kids quickly learnt not to simply smash the stones down as all the seeds were bashed away. Smooth stones proved best for grinding the spelt seeds we used. White flour is made by removing all the bits of crushed husk, whereas wholemeal comes from leaving it all in.
The flour was mixed with a little water and heated to make bread, literally in the hot ashes of the fire – the burnt crusts were never eaten by our ancestors. I know a lot of smalls who would prefer this kind of crustless stone age bread every day!
Let me know if you have any simple and easy stone age activities we could add to the list.