Ancient Indus Valley Unit Study

Indus Valley Unit Study

In this lovely Ancient Indus Valley Unit Study, I will be sharing all the wonderful activities my children and I did. This was a fairly short study, but really interesting, not to mention unusual.

The Ancient Indus Valley civilisation was not known about until the early twentieth century. Lost until archeologists discovered it the Indian subcontinent, it is a fascinating site which existed between 2600-1900BCE. We perused this excellent article on the Indus Valley Civilisation.

Ancient Indus Valley Unit Study Resources

Books are always the place to start:

Activities: Map Making

In order to put the Indus Valley into a geographical concept, I had the children make a cookie map.

Seriously, who doesn’t love edible geography?

We looked at paper maps of India and tried to replicate it:

Indus Valley Unit Study
Just baked India shaped cookie

We added lots of decoration and icing:

Indus Valley Unit Study
Just baked India shaped cookie
Just baked India shaped cookie

I think next time I would get them to add a key to show which sweet represented which land mark as it’s not terribly clear (!).

I also had them fill in a paper map for good measure:


Writing about the Indus Valley Civilisation

We read most of the books together, although they did take some of them up to read during their quiet time.

I had them write quick paragraph about the Indus Valley:

Indus Valley Unit Study

Over the course of this Indus Valley unit study, we read some of the myths from these two great books:

I had them choose two of the myths .  They wrote a key word outline or spider diagram (T prefers these) and rewrote them in their own words.  These are Thomas’, who was maybe 9 at the time, and chose to write about the Brand New Cosmos and Ganesh:

Just baked India shaped cookie
Just baked India shaped cookie

Critical Thinking: What Ended the Indus Valley Civilisation?

In my search through the web, I happened upon this fun activity, which they all did with aplomb!  The children had to read all the evidence and make up their own conclusion about what happened to the Indus Civilisation.

We read Savitri and used these extra sheets for information.  The children put on a play, acting out Savitri.

We also filled out a lapbook from Hands of a Child whilst doing lots of hands on activity:

Indus Valley Unit Study Dressing Up and Making our own Saris

We always try to either make or buy in dressing up.  Our children seriously LOVE dressing up and play acting.  Even as I write this they are in the living room acting out kings, princes and servants, have made a huge beduin tent over our beams and are generally having a ball (this is all 5 including the baby – too cute!).

This time we thought saris would be fairly easy to make and I decided I could teach them a new skill by tie dying the material.  I bought the cheapest white material I could buy.  I was informed that I needed 6 meters for each child.  We bought some pink and blue cold water dye and followed the instructions to a tee. 

First though we made sure we had tied mounds of fabric to create a circle pattern and simply tied rope around the material to create straight lines.  We did all this in the bath (so much material) and dried it on the line.

Using the Wonderful Local Resources

The lady who runs our newsagent very kindly offered to come around on her only afternoon off and teach the children to put on a sari properly and Thomas to put on a turban.  She also, bless her, brought some Indian jewelary and sticker-bindhi, which she genorously allowed our children to keep:

Indus Valley Unit Study
Indus Valley Unit Study

Henna Painting

Another activity included applying henna to our hands.  I also cut out hand shapes for all the children and gave them sheets with henna patterns on to copy, so they could have a go themselves:


Indus Valley Unit Study: Making Chapati

As a final activity we made chapati:


This Indus Valley Unit Study was so much fun! If you want to look deeper into this fascinating subject then I can highly recommend Harappa website which contains links to a heap of extra information and further reading you can do until your heart is content!

For more history posts, please do visit my History page where you fill find history unit studies galore!


    1. Writing would be arduous for T10. I expect the same from him but I offer more help. They have always had to write every day so it is ingrained and very much a habit, so whilst he does not enjoy it I don’t really have any problems getting him to do it.

  1. This is perfect timing for us. We are about to dive into Persia. I read about henna and thought the kids would like decorating themselves with permanent marker. Where did you get the designs? Those Saris are beautiful. – Thanks for linking up with Homeschool Hobbies and Handicrafts.

  2. How wonderful!!! We used several of those books when we studied Ancient Civ also!! I like your version of making the maps 🙂 We were supposed to do salt dough mapping, but it never really worked out. I like the cake and decoration much better!! We also like lapbooks. My kids love doing that!!

  3. What a fantastic unit! I haven’t covered ancient India much yet, so I’m bookmarking this post for future reference.

    Love the saris, too – my best friend’s mom, when we were kids, is from Sri Lanks, so we grew up playing dress up with saris and I still love them. How nice of that lady to come around and share her time like that!

  4. Wow! What a wonderful way to study India – I love all of your activities – especially making your own saris! The Toblerone Himalayas are also really cool. Thanks so much for linking up to The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop – I’ll be coming back to this post when my girls are a little older.

  5. Thank you for taking the time to blog this. I’m just starting this unit with my students and was wondering which resources (as the school has none on Ancient India) that you used above would be worth buying? (I’m sure they all are but I can only get away with buying so much!)

    1. That’s a hard question to answer. Eye Witness books are great for pictures and bite of information. The Passport to India book is packed full of hands on material. The myth book you could probably find the same information on line. The Ancient India book is one of my favourites, full of information, but I guess would be geared towards older students and isn’t so ‘fun’ to read. The novel is incredibly hard to get hold of, and therefore very expensive- we found it in a charity shop. The note pages and website are all free. The biscuit map making and tie dye were really great fun. You could do both smaller scale, to save money. The Hands of a Child Lap book is inexpensive and can be printed multiple times for a family- I’m not sure their policy on schools. I think that covers everything- if not feel free to ask more!

  6. I like they way you used cards for the Heyna drawings. I’ve been thinking about our upcoming India study and don’t think the kids would like to be tatooed, but would like to decorate paper.

    1. You see, mine would have loved to have been tattooed but the ink would have gone everywhere and they would have looked like one big splodge. So I was a meany mummy and made them do it on card!

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