Picturing The Distant Past


Use creative paint techniques to create a scene of your neighborhood long ago.


1. Take a trip back in time to investigate what your neighborhood would have looked like, perhaps when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, in another geological era. Was it an ocean bed? Did giant ferns grow there? What animals roamed the area?

2. Cover the work space with recycled newspaper. Create colors of the era's landscape with Crayola® Washable Paint and Brushes. To make tints, mix a small amount of white into colored paint. Make shades by adding a drop or two of black to a color.

3. To make paint pans that eliminate drips when printing, cover the bottom of shallow pans with a flat sponge or a double layer of paper. Pour a shallow layer of paint on top.

4. Represent vegetation, water, and terrain with paint using these or other creative techniques: (Combine several techniques.)

  • Dip the straight edge of a small piece of cardboard into a shallow paint layer. Press the dipped edge on paper to print a straight line.
  • Make notches in a small piece of cardboard with Crayola Scissors. Dip in paint. Drag the notched edge across the paper to create multiple lines.
  • Carve shapes into Crayola Modeling Clay with a plastic knife or other modeling tool, or use other found objects, to stamp prints. Dip the object in a shallow paint layer, then press onto paper.
  • Dab paint onto paper with a sponge.
  • Create a stipple (dotted) effect by using cotton swabs to apply paint.
  • Dip opposite sides of paint brush hair into different colors. Paint or dab on paper.
  • Experiment with brushes of various sizes and shapes.

    5. Cut or tear painted patterned paper and arrange on another piece of paper to make a collaged scene. Attach pieces with Crayola School Glue.

    Safety Guidelines

    Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

    Crayola Modeling Materials including Crayola Model Magic®, and Model Magic Fusion™, Crayola Air-Dry Clay, and Crayola Dough—

    • Keep away from open flames. Do not use to make candleholders, hot plates, trivets, or other similar objects that will be used or placed near fire and other heat sources.
    • Do not put in an oven, microwave, or kiln.
    • Do not make into vessels/containers that will hold unpackaged food.
    • The use of modeling material to make items that look like food is discouraged for children younger than age 5 to avoid their confusion with real food.
    • Unless sealed with a water-resistant glaze, do not make projects exposed to or immersed in water, such as boats or outdoor bird feeders. They would disintegrate when exposed to moisture.
    • Crayola Dough—contains gluten (wheat flour) as an ingredient.
    • Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Crayola Model Magic and Model Magic Fusion are gluten-free. However, they are produced on the same machinery as Crayola Dough which does contain gluten. Although the machines are cleaned prior to the start of each production run, there is a slight possibility that trace amounts of gluten from Crayola Dough may be present in the other modeling compound products. For information regarding specific ingredients or allergic concerns, please call our Consumer Affairs department at 1-800-272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Standard Time.

    Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.

    Modeling Tools—Use the least dangerous point or edge sufficient to do the job. For example, craft sticks, plastic knives and forks, and cookie cutters can cut or carve modeling materials.

    Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.

    Sponges and Foam—Sponges, foam, and other expandable materials should not be used with children 3 years old and younger.


    • Turn this landscape into a diorama background by folding it in half. Fold the outside edges back toward the center to increase stability. Add 3-D models of plants and animals from the era.
    • Children try to identify each other's ancient neighborhoods. The young artists give clues such as topography, vegetation, or climate.

    Related Lesson Plans

  • Lesson Plans

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    crayola supplies
    • Paint Brushes
    • Washable Kid's Paint
    • Crayola® Modeling Clay
    • No-Run School Glue
    • Blunt-Tip Scissors
    household supplies
    • recycled newspaper
    • paper towels
    • cardboard (optional)
    • sponges (optional)
    • container(s) of water
    • cotton swabs (optional)
    • found objects (optional)
    • plastic dinnerware



    • Pre-K and Kindergarten
    • Grades 1 to 3
    • Grades 4 to 6
    • Special Needs


    • Science
    • Visual Arts


    • Less than 1/2 hour
    • 30 to 60 minutes
    • Multiple Sessions


    • Children research and record their region's characteristics during a selected geological time period.

    • Students represent their neighborhood's ancient landscape (or seascape) with tempera painting techniques.


    Research Canada Standards
    Research UK Standards
    Research U.S. Standards