Benin c. CE 900 - 1300

Block E - Everyday Life

This topic provides you with an outstanding set of inspired plans and resources to enable you to study Benin (West Africa) c. AD 900-1300 and to contrast many of its features with contemporary developments in British history; learn about the rise and establishment of the Benin Kingdom, consider what brought the Edo people to the rainforests of Benin and how the empire grew; study the rulers of the Edo people, their everyday life, their religion and worship, their trading currencies and trade routes, their music and art and finally how the Kingdom of Benin came to an end.

Create Benin houses and streets; imagine what it was like to live among the Benin people; investigate Benin music and story telling; make a Benin asologun (stringed instrument) and/or egion (musical bow); take part in a recital; explore Benin cast iron objects and their meanings; have a go at casting; learn about the types of food people ate in Benin and try out some traditional recipes.

This Topic is written for Upper Key Stage 2. If you want to use this Topic for a different Key Stage, you will need to consider how to adapt the outcomes, content, delivery methods, resources and differentiation, as well as the relevant National Curriculum objectives.

Supporting documents for topic
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01: Benin houses

Learn how the people of Benin made houses. Make a Benin house out of sticks, clay and leaves. Create a class Benin city by setting out the streets in long straight lines, just like the ancient city of Benin. Imagine what it would be like to live among the Benin people.

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02: Music and story

Investigate the music of the time and understand the importance of music in the Benin culture. Learn that they did not have a written language and children did not go to school, but instead, in the evening, the people in each village would collect around the village square or family hearth and tell stories. Make a Benin asologun (stringed instrument) and/or egion (musical bow), and take part in a recital.

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03: Benin art

Understand that one of the most unique things about the Benin civilisation was their art. Explore their cast bronze objects. Understand that their art had symbolic meanings and were made by skilled craftsmen. Have a go at casting or making a hip mask, bell, or figurine and present them in an assembly.

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04: Benin food

Learn about the types of food people ate in Benin and try out some traditional recipes. Eat!