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Comparing Two Cultures: Hinds Cave and Yours

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Subject: Social Studies

Grade: 4th and 7th

Author: Carol Schlenk, revised by Jason Terry (2023)

Time Duration: One or two 45-minute class periods

Objective: In this lesson students compare their own culture with that of prehistoric people who camped at Hinds Cave in the Lower Pecos region of Texas thousands of years ago. Students become familiar with lesson-related vocabulary terms (in English and Spanish), locate Hind’s Cave on a map, make cultural comparisons using a graphic organizer, and write a comparison/contrast essay on the two cultures.

TEKS: Social Studies, Grade 4

  • (1B), identify and compare the ways of life of American Indian groups in Texas before European exploration such as the Lipan Apache, Karankawa, Caddo, and Jumano
  • (1C), describe the cultural regions in which American Indians lived such as Gulf, Plains, Puebloan, and Southeastern
  • (8A), describe ways people have adapted to and modified their environment in Texas, past and present, such as timber clearing, agricultural production, wetlands drainage, energy production, and construction of dams
  • (8B), explain reasons why people have adapted to and modified their environment in Texas, past and present, such as the use of natural resources to meet basic needs, facilitate transportation, and enhance recreational activities
  • (19B), analyze information by applying absolute and relative chronology through sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions
  • (21B), incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication
  • (21D) create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies

Social Studies, Grade 7

  • (2A), compare the cultures of American Indians in Texas prior to European colonization such as Gulf, Plains, Puebloan, and Southeastern
  • (8A), locate and compare the Mountains and Basins, Great Plains, North Central Plains, and Coastal Plains regions
  • (8B), locate and compare places of importance in Texas in terms of physical and human characteristics such as major cities, waterways, natural and historic landmarks, political and cultural regions, and local points of interest
  • (9A) identify ways in which Texans have adapted to and modified the environment and explain the positive and negative consequences of the modifications
  • (20B), analyze information by applying absolute and relative chronology through sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions
  • (22B), use effective written communication skills, including proper citations and avoiding plagiarism
  • (22C), create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information


Activities and Procedures:

Step 1: Display the image of Hinds Cave. Ask students to describe the physical geography around the cave and make inferences about what it would be like to live there.

Step 2: (Optional) If students are not familiar with this lesson’s vocabulary words, introduce them. Note: Spanish translations are included.

Step 3: Explain that nomadic hunting and gathering people traveling through southwest Texas often stopped at Hinds Cave for temporary shelter during the Archaic era. Such caves were usually inhabited by groups the size of an extended family, or around 12 people. Ask students to brainstorm a few examples of how living in such a cave 1,000 – 6,000 years ago would compare to living in their homes today. Explain that in this lesson, they will explore the culture of Hinds Cave and compare it to and contrast it with their own culture.

Step 4: Display Map of Hinds Cave. Point out that the cave is located on the Pecos River and have students locate this area on a map of Texas.

Step 5: Distribute the Comparing Two Cultures graphic organizer. Explain that students will compare their own culture to that of Hinds Cave by filling out the Comparing Two Cultures graphic organizer, then use the information they collected to write a comparison-contrast essay on the two cultures.

Step 6: Explain that Hinds Cave is protected beneath a prominent limestone overhang and because it exists in a semiarid region of Texas where the dry climate has produced almost perfect preservation conditions, archeologists have found a wealth of information about the people who camped there over the centuries. Objects found intact in Hinds Cave include artifacts, such as intricate tools, weapons, basketry, sandals, wood, and chipped stone. Also found were more than 2,000 well preserved coprolites which tell us much about what these people ate.

Step 7: Distribute student copies of the Comparing Two Cultures graphic organizer. If necessary, display the image of the graphic organizer to help students get started. To fill in the first two sections of the organizer, students will need access to their Texas history textbooks, the Texas Almanac, or some other source of information that can help them describe the location and climate where they live. Have students work with a partner to fill in the rest of their graphic organizers.

Step 8: Using their completed graphic organizers for reference, have students write a comparison-contrast essay on their own culture and that of Hinds Cave.

Student Product: A completed Comparing Two Cultures graphic organizer and a comparison-contrast essay.

Closure: Ask students if they’ve ever been camping, and if so, how primitive their experiences were. Answers will vary from camping in an RV with TV and air-conditioning to primitive tent camping. Have students relate how their camping experiences differed from their everyday lives.

Extension Activities:

1. Have students examine what life was like for American Indians at Hinds Cave by exploring the following Life at Hinds exhibit on TBH:

2. After doing so, complete the sentence stem activity. Students should complete each sentence stem using information and opinions based on what they learned about Hinds Cave. Have students share their responses. This is a good example of differentiation- students will not all have the same answers, but by sharing they will hear many different possible correct responses.

3. To discover more about Hinds Cave coprolites and the interesting surprises they contain, visit Dr. Dirt, the armadillo archeologist, who guides students through the interactive Detectives into the Past:

4. Bake a batch of Chocolate Chip Coprolite Cookies, using the recipe handout at the end of lesson. Don’t worry, they’re not real coprolites! They’re chocolate oatmeal cookies with lots of ingredients that make them look like coprolites. See which of your students will volunteer first to do a taste test!

5. Have students keep a log of everything they eat in a 24-hour period. Ask them to break down the components of all their foods as much as possible when entering them into their logs. For example, a hamburger contains a meat patty, but also may contain pickles (cucumbers, vinegar, spices), mayonnaise (eggs, vegetable oil), cheese (milk), and a bun (flour, salt, baking powder, etc.). Then ask them to imagine that a future archeologist is analyzing their culture by studying the foods they ate. What can students say about their own culture after studying the foods they eat? Point out to students that Americans have access to foods from all over the world that are available at almost any given time. How does such a diet compare to prehistoric diets such as those consumed at Hind’s Cave? To find out more, have students link to the What’s for Dinner? page in the Kids section of Texas Beyond History:

Assessment: Have students list the five things they would miss most from their own culture if they had to live in Hinds Cave for a week. Let students read their lists aloud and see if there are some common elements among their lists.