Early Humans and the Lunar Calendar

Corresponding with their early human studies, the fourth grade presented their lunar calendar projects on November 7. The students learned how early cultures kept track of the moon cycle using one-to-one correspondence, a pre-number system. They also learned how the moon dictated early human behavior, determining when people would hunt, for example.

The cycle of the moon is 29.5 days, and the students were asked to create objects representing each cycle. For simplicity, teacher Barbara Strong rounded down to 29 days. The students teamed up and painted each moon cycle on small clay or wooden discs and explained how ancient people used the moon as a way to count the passage of days or arrival of seasons. They also replicated the Lebombo Bone, which is over 30,000 years old. This bone had 29 notches carved into it and was used by early humans to count the lunar phases. The fourth graders created their own bones out of clay or sticks.

The lunar calendar project integrated cultural history and mathematics, and measured the students’ ability to work in groups as well as their understanding of the subject.