The focus of the unit is the fact that the Shang dynasty made astonishing advances in writing, bronze technology, art and warfare. Some bronze work was the best in the world at that time.

Our study starts with pupils interpreting clues to form some early ideas about this little-known society. This is a deliberate attempt to replicate what historians were faced with. Only in the last 100 years have they been able to find sufficient evidence to build a picture of a society many felt might not have existed. Time is given over to the material culture as well as spiritual beliefs that underpinned society.

Throughout comparisons are made with other contemporary societies so that pupils can place the Shang dynasty in relation to say Stonehenge or the pyramids and can see the similarities differences and the way society operated and the Shang’s belief systems.


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shang dynasty
Shang dynasty knowledge organiser – KS2

You are studying the Shang dynasty because it was the first Chinese civilization in ancient times and one for which…

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Shang dynasty – KQ1 – Why do YOU think the Shang dynasty MIGHT be important?

Lively introductory session which creatively gets pupils to find things out for themselves and check their understanding using bells and…

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shang oracle bone
Shang dynasty – KQ2 – How different was the Shang society to other civilizations at the time?

Using the expert/envoy technique to research and disseminate information from dossiers on a range of different aspects of Shang society,…

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Shang dynasty – KQ3 – What can we tell about the Shang dynasty from the objects that have survived?

Here the focus is on developing enquiry-led learning which is as much about asking valid historical questions as it is…

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shang tomb
Shang dynasty – KQ4 – Why has our understanding of the Shang dynasty changed so much in the last 100 years?

Opening up the tricky concept of interpretations of the past, this session enables pupils to grasp that history is always…

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shang postcard
Shang dynasty – KQ5 – What was distinctive about the Shang people’s beliefs?

Having used a fast-paced Information Run activity to acquire the key points about Shang religion pupils are set the task…

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di xin
Shang dynasty – KQ6 – If the Shang dynasty was so well organised why did come to an end after just 600 years and what makes it so special for people today?

Pupils compare 5 different simple textbook explanations, which they colour code, before building their own explanation, based on what seems…

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