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My Personal Painted Pebble

Download lesson plan and included materials

Subject: Art and Social Studies

Grade: 4th grade

Author: Alice Elia, revised by Emily McCuistion (2023)

Time Duration: One 50-minute class period

Overview: This painted pebble activity is used to help students understand possible uses and importance of painted pebbles to Native Americans in Texas.

TEKS: Art, Grade 4

  • 2(A), integrate ideas drawn from life experiences to create original works of art;
  • 2(B), create compositions using the elements of art and principles of design; and
  • 2(C), produce drawings; paintings; prints; sculpture, including modeled forms; and other art forms such as ceramics, fiber art, constructions, mixed media, installation art, digital art and media, and photographic imagery using a variety of art media and materials.
  • 3(B), compare purpose and content in artworks created by historical and contemporary men and women, making connections to various cultures

Social Studies, Grade 4

  • 1(B), 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


  • Pictures of painted pebbles (included)
  • Flat pebbles or small stones
  • Small paint brushes
  • Acrylic paint in a few different colors

Activities and Procedures:

Step 1: Read “Painted Pebbles,” this excerpt taken from page 14 of Life in a Rock Shelter by G. Elaine Acker, to the class:

“Archeologists have found a few examples of painted pebbles buried along with other artifacts at sites in the Lower Pecos. The smooth, flat, limestone rocks were decorated with geometrical designs and human-like faces. Although researchers suggest that the pebbles represent human beings, their actual purpose is unknown.”

Show students the pictures of painted pebbles found in rock shelters in southwest Texas. Photographs of painted pebbles can be found here:

Step 2: Discuss possible uses/importance of painted pebbles. Questions could include:

  • What do you think they used the pebbles for?
  • Why do you think they painted on the pebbles?
  • What do you think the paintings on the pebbles signified?

Step 3: Hand out materials and let children paint their pebbles.

Closure: Let students get into groups of four or five to share what they have painted and what the pictures mean to them. Display the pebbles in the room for a week or more so that the whole class can enjoy them.

Extension Activities:

  • Make your own paint by grinding the pigment from clay, berries, or non-toxic charcoal (not charcoal briquettes) and mixing the pigment with water, egg white, or vegetable oil.
  • The student may apply the paint with sticks or leaves for a more realistic example of the way painted pebbles were made.
  • Visit to view painted pebbles and other fascinating objects from the Lower Pecos Canyonlands region of Texas.