Benin c. CE 900 - 1300
Everyday Life

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) and take part in a recital. Explore Benin cast iron objects and their meanings and have a go at casting. Learn about the types of food people ate in Benin and try some traditional recipes.

Session 1 Benin houses

Objectives

History

  • Address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance.
  • Understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.
  • Undertake an in-depth study of a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history – (the Benin civilisation).

D&T

  • Select from and use a wider range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks accurately.
  • Select from and use a wider range of materials and components.

Teaching and Activities

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.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To learn about the houses people lived in in the Kingdom of Benin.
  • To make model Benin houses from sticks and clay.

Children will:

  • Contrast the construction of city and village buildings in Benin.
  • Build model houses.
  • Tell a collaborative story about life in one of these houses.

You Will Need

  • Cardboard bases
  • Clay
  • Sticks
  • Leaves (use fallen or fake leaves, or make them from paper).

Session 2 Music and story

Objectives

History

  • Address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance.
  • Understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.
  • Undertake an in-depth study of a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history - The Benin civilisation.

D&T

  • Select from and use a wider range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks accurately.
  • Select from and use a wider range of materials and components.

Music

  • Play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts. Improvise and compose music for a range of purposes.
  • Appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians.

Teaching and Activities

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.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To find out about everyday musical instruments played in the Kingdom of Benin.
  • To make replica musical instruments.
  • To play replica musical instruments in an improvised recital.

Children will:

  • Be able to explain what musical instruments were used in the Benin kingdom and why.
  • Make replica musical instruments that produce a sound.
  • Play handmade musical instruments in an improvised recital.

You Will Need

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Sticks (bendy, e.g. hazel or willow)
  • String
  • Elastic bands

Session 3 Benin art

Objectives

History

  • Understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.
  • Undertake an in-depth study of a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history - The Benin civilisation.

D&T

  • Select from and use a wider range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks accurately.
  • Select from and use a wider range of materials and components.

Art

  • Gain an increasing awareness of different kinds of art, craft and design.
  • Improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including drawing, painting and sculpture with a range of materials.

Teaching and Activities

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.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To find out about the symbolism in Benin art.
  • To plan and make replica pieces of art from Benin.
  • To make art in the style of Benin bronze-making.

Children will:

  • Use their knowledge of Benin artwork to design a replica
  • Sketch a design for an artwork
  • Make a model of a Benin artwork

You Will Need

  • Clay
  • Clay modelling tools
  • Water
  • A freezer

Session 4 Benin food

Objectives

History

  • Understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.
  • Undertake an in-depth study of a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history - The Benin civilisation.

D&T

  • Prepare and cook a variety of predominantly savoury dishes using a range of cooking techniques.
  • Understand seasonality, and know where and how a variety of ingredients are grown, reared, caught and processed.

Teaching and Activities

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

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To find out about the traditional food of Benin.
  • To cook savoury dishes from Benin.

Children will:

  • Learn that people eat what is available in the environment around them before globalisation.
  • Understand that these recipes are a best guess about the food people ate historically in Benin.
  • Follow a recipe and cook a traditional dish from Benin.

You Will Need

  • Kitchen scales
  • Preparation & serving equipment
  • Dried fish
  • Ground crayfish
  • Yams
  • Plantains
  • Ground cassava
  • Salt & pepper
  • Palm oil
  • Spinach
  • Onion