Teacher's Guide for Ancient India - lesson plan guidelines for middle schoolers

Ancient India Teachers' Guide

Elephanta
Elephanta Cave

One way to think about India is as the center of the Eurasian continent, placed midway between East and West. You might ask the children to find which things about India come from the west (millet, lentils, wheat, large-scale stone sculpture, Indo-European language, alphabetic writing), and which things come from the east (chickens, tea, chess, paper, silk). Or, they could discuss what things India passed to the west (chess, paper, "Arabic" numerals, cotton, sugar, bananas) and what things India passed to the east (large-scale stone sculpture, Buddhism, cotton).

Another way to think of India is to compare Indian stories like the Ramayana with stories they know better. Which story elements are the same? Which are different?

Or you could discuss the caste system - what would it be like to be born into a particular caste? Who would like this system? Who would not like it? How would a system like that get started? Is there anything like that in American society?

Finally, please check out our brand-new this year section on Indian architecture - hard to find anywhere else! A good way to use this would be to do a timeline of Greek and Roman and medieval architecture along with Indian architecture and see what things are happening where - first buildings? first stone roofs? first religious buildings? Or, compare Indian architecture to Indian history on a timeline.

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