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Upper Key Stage 2 Earliest Civilisations: Shang Dynasty
Writing and the Shang Calendar

If you enjoy problem solving, brain teasers and languages, you will love this block about the writing and calendar of the Shang Dynasty. Learn how Chinese writing works and investigate Shang texts and calendars as you build towards a presentation.

Session 1 Chinese characters

Objectives

History

  • Children should undertake an in-depth study of The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China.

English

  • Children’s confidence, enjoyment and mastery of language should be extended through public speaking, performance and debate.

Planning and Activities

Learn how Chinese writing works; write your name in Chinese; say your name in Mandarin Chinese.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To learn some Chinese characters and write their name.
  • To present their names to the class in Mandarin Chinese.

Children will:

  • Explain how Chinese writing works.
  • Write their name in Chinese.
  • Say their name in Mandarin Chinese.

You Will Need

You do not need any particular resources for this session.

Session 2 Shang writing

Objectives

History

  • Children should undertake a depth study of The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China.
  • They should regularly address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance.

English

  • Children will learn to retrieve, record and present information from non-fiction.

Planning and Activities

Address research questions about writing and oracle bones in the past; research some Shang characters found on oracle bones; work out the meaning of Shang characters.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To learn how and why people in the Shang Dynasty wrote.
  • To add Shang characters to the Chinese-English dictionary.

Children will:

  • Address research questions about writing and oracle bones in the past.
  • Research some Shang characters found on oracle bones.
  • Work out the meaning of Shang characters.

Provided Resources

  • Shang writing and oracle bones
  • Examples of characters found on oracle bones
  • How Chinese characters have changed from the Shang era to the present day

You Will Need

You do not need any particular resources for this session.

Session 3 Shang calendar

Objectives

History

  • Children should undertake an in-depth study of The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China.
  • They should regularly address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance.

Maths

  • Pupils divide numbers mentally drawing upon known facts.
  • Draw given angles, and measure them in degrees.

Planning and Activities

Learn how and why people in the Shang Dynasty made calendars; make your own Shang cyclical calendar.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To learn how and why people in the Shang Dynasty made calendars.
  • To make a Shang Cyclical Calendar.

Children will:

  • Explain how the Shang calendar worked.
  • Divide a three digit number by a two digit number.
  • Draw angles, measuring them in degrees.

You Will Need

  • Compasses
  • Protractors
  • Split pins.

Session 4 Translating an inscription

Objectives

History

  • Children should undertake an in-depth study of The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China.

English

  • Retrieve, record and present information from non-fiction.

Planning and Activities

Translate a Shang text and explain what the oracle bones tell us about the Shang Dynasty.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To learn how and why people in the Shang Dynasty wrote.
  • To transcribe and translate Shang characters.

Children will:

  • Use a number of different strategies to solve a problem.
  • Translate a Shang text.
  • Explain what the oracle bones tell us about the Shang Dynasty.

Provided Resources

  • Transcription of an oracle bone with a translation template
  • Translation of the text on an oracle bone
  • The stems and branches of the dates

You Will Need

You do not need any particular resources for this session.

Session 5 Make your own oracle bones

Objectives

History

  • Children should undertake an in-depth study of The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China.

English

  • Pupils’ Retrieve, record and present information from non-fiction.

Planning and Activities

Make replica oracle bones from wood, plastic or bone; inscribe with your own Shang inscription; make a display of all your Shang writing creations.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To learn how and why people in the Shang Dynasty wrote.
  • To transcribe and translate Shang characters.

Children will:

  • Plan a question about the future.
  • Translate it into modern or Shang Chinese characters.
  • Choose which of their pieces of work they want to put on display.

You Will Need

  • Lamb shoulder blades or alternatively pieces of plastic or wood shaped into a bone/tortoise shell shape
  • Inscribing tools, e.g. blunt pencils