Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary that students will see in their readings or presentations aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary related to the study of Early Humans.

Students will preview the terms and definitions and use whole class or small group discussion to demonstrate their understanding of each meaning. Then, they will create a Spider map of 3-5 terms at the teachers discretion. Each cell will contain a term, its definition and an illustration that depicts the meaning. When students define and illustrate each term, they master the application of it and retain it as part of their lexicon.

Suggested Vocabulary for Early Humans

hominid: Humans from prehistoric times which include: Australopithecus afarensis, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens sapiens.

artifact: an object made or used by people in the past.

prehistoric: before written history.

ritual: relating to a ceremony such as a religious ceremony.

anthropologist: a scientist who studies human development and culture.

remains: a dead body.

biped: an animal who walks on two hind legs instead of on all fours.

Australopithecus afarensis: the earliest known group of hominids whose remains were found in Africa and are believed to have lived 4 million years ago. Nicknamed “Lucy” because the anthropologist Donald Johanson who made the discovery had been listening to the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.

Homo habilis: a group of early hominids who lived in Africa about 2 million years ago and are markedly different from “Lucy” as they made and used tools. Nicknamed “Handy Man”.

Homo erectus: A type of hominid that lived about 1.8 million - 200,000 BCE. Scientists believe they were the first to migrate out of Africa. They stood fully upright and therefore are nicknamed “Upright Man”.

Homo sapiens Neanderthalensis: This early human lived from 230,000 to 30,000 years ago in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. They had large brains and were skilled toolmakers. Nickname: Neanderthals.

Homo sapiens sapiens: These prehistoric humans lived from 35,000-12,000 BCE. They originated in Africa but migrated to Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. They differed from Neanderthals in that they had high rounded skulls, smaller teeth, slimmer bone structure, and larger brains. Nickname: Early Modern Humans.

migrate: to move from one geographic region to another.

land bridge: a piece of land connecting two continents.

Paleolithic Age: The Old Stone Age was a period when people made tools out of stone and also survived by hunting and gathering. It occurred between 2 million years ago and 8,000 BCE.

Neolithic Age: The New Stone Age was a period when people continued to make tools out of stone but they made a crucial shift from hunting and gathering to being able to farm. Cultivating the land and raising livestock allowed these humans to settle in one place and communities grew larger. The Neolithic Age was from 8,000 BCE to 3,000 BCE. The New Stone Age ended when people discovered how to use metal to make tools and weapons.

ground sloth: a group of now extinct sloths, closely related to current day tree sloths, they were large, lumbering herbivores.

domesticate: to train a wild animal to be useful to humans.

agriculture: the business of farming.

trade: the business of buying and selling or exchanging items.

ore: a mineral mined for its valuable uses.

Stonehenge: Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in England that was constructed in 3000 BCE (over 5000 years ago!) It is a ring of huge standing stones around 13 feet high, seven feet wide, and weighing 25 tons.

Cave Paintings: Prehistoric cave paintings date from about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. They were made on cave walls or ceilings with paint applied by finger, chewed sticks, or fur for brushes. One famous example is in Lascaux, France and dates to about 15,000-17,000 BCE.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key terms from the unit.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the key terms you have chosen.
  3. In the description boxes, write the definition of the term.
  4. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items. To find images that relate to Early Humans, type “Early Humans” into the search bar.
  5. Save and exit when you're done.

Requirements: Must have 3 terms, correct definitions and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/3] Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/4] Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/6] Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Define and illustrate each of the key terms.
7 Points
4 Points
1 Points
The vocabulary words are correctly defined.
The meaning of the vocabulary words can be understood but it is somewhat unclear.
The vocabulary word is not clearly defined
The storyboard illustrations clearly depict the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The illustrations relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words but it they are difficult to understand.
The illustrations do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

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