| Indiana Standards | Teacher Resources | Student Resources | Introduction | Lesson 1 |
| Lesson 2 | Lesson 3 | Lesson 4 | Lesson 5 | Culminating Class Activity |

Grade: 7th
Subject: Social Studies
Connections: Language Arts
Content: Culture of Ancient India, Religion, Myth
Time: Three to four weeks

Social Studies:

  1. Social Studies; Eastern Cultures; Historical Perspectives; Evaluate the effect of historical events, figures, and decisions on Eastern cultures.
  2. Social Studies; Eastern Cultures; Geographic Relationships; Explain the relationship between physical and cultural features on the earth's surface.
  3. Social Studies; Eastern Cultures; World Cultures; Using the cultures of the Eastern World as a context, identify the common elements of different cultures.
  4. Social Studies; Eastern Cultures; Individuals and Society; Develop an understanding of the relationship between individual and group behavior.
    Consider how individual behavior is influenced by social groups.

Standard 1: Students understand the significance of visual art in relation to historical, social, political, spiritual, environmental, technological, and economic issues.
Standard 3: Students describe, analyze, and interpret works of art and artifacts.
Standard 4: Students identify and apply criteria to make informed judgements about art.
Standard 7: Students observe, select, and utilize a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas in their work.
Standard 9: Students develop and apply skills using a variety of two dimensional and three-dimensional media, tools, and processes to create works that communicate personal meaning.
Standard 10: Students reflect on, revise, and refine work using problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Standard 13: Students identify and make connections between knowledge and skill in art and all other subject areas such as humanities, sciences, and technology.
Standard 14: Students understand the connections between many art forms including dance, theater, music, visual arts, and media arts.

Language Arts:
Standard 3 Reading: Literary Response and Analysis
Students read and respond to grade-level-appropriate historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance their study of history and social science.
Standard 5 Writing: Writing Process
Students discuss, list, and graphically organize writing ideas. They write clear, coherent, and focused essays. Students progress through the stages of the writing process and proofread, edit, and revise writing.
Standard 7 Listening and Speaking Skills, Strategies, and Applications:
Students deliver focused, coherent presentations that convey ideas clearly and relate to the background and interests of the audience. Students evaluate the content of oral communication. Students deliver well-organized formal presentations using traditional speech strategies, including narration, exposition, persuasion, and description.

TEACHER RESOURCES: Background on each of the civilizations with Web sites, books, and videos.

  3. Discover India
  8. History of India
  9. Welcome to India
  10. The Hindu Universe
  11. World History, India
  12. The Web Chronology Project
  13. Invest in India
  14. Washington State University, Ancient India
  15. Video Library
  16. Get video from Indianapolis Museum of Art on their exposition.
  17. Indianapolis Zoo

Internet Sites:

  1. Harappa
  2. Mr. Donn's Class
  3. Penn Charter School
  4. India Cool Atlanta
  5. India Government
  6. Pitara for Kids
  7. Inspire Kids

Image Databases:
Corbis Images

Grove Dictionary of Online Art
Article Search "Indian Subcontinent"
External Image Links:
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Place students into five cooperative learning groups. Assign or have each choose an archeological dig for the name of their group: Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Lothal, Rojdi, Kotda. Lead a whole class discussion for each introductory lesson. Assign or ask each group to choose a Dig for each lesson. Groups should discuss the guided research questions. Encourage students to add questions of their own. Have each group choose one or more activities in their Dig to demonstrate and further their knowledge of the research. Students should use Web sites, visual databases, school and public library, museums, books, and other resource materials for research questions and activities. The Grove Dictionary of Art Online provides informative textual content as well as visual image links to museum holdings of Ancient Indian artifacts.

Lesson 1: Ask students to think about India. What do they know about it? Where is it located? Do they know someone from India? Do they know of any great leaders of India? Religion? Form of government? Place students in five or six cooperative groups and ask them to share information they already know about India. Share the information with large group. Ask each group to do a fact find on one of the following topics about India and report back to larger group: religion, government, economics, education, culture/people, famous places/persons. Have students use books and periodicals from the library/media center or the Internet.

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Lesson 2: Have students report back on facts and information they found about India. Record information on a large chart. You may wish to show students a short video on modern India. Ask students if their information gathering gave them clues to Ancient India? Have students work in their groups to brainstorm a list of questions about ancient India. Tell the class they will go on an archeological find for three major periods in Ancient India; the Indus Valley Civilization, Aryans and Vedic Age, Gupta Age. Have each student keep a log or journal of important or interesting discoveries about Ancient India they encounter in each of their archeological digs.

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Lesson 3: The Indus Valley Civilization was a highly advanced civilization 300-1500 B.C.. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, their greatest cities, are well-known for the well-planned layout of streets and buildings. They also had highly skilled artisans and craftsmen. Discuss why it was given the name Indus Valley. Have students visit Internet sites and other resources to find answers to questions on the handout (like a scavenger hunt). Have students choose an Indian archeological dig site as a name for their cooperative group if not already done: Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Lothal, Rojdi, Kotda. Provide students a list of Internet sites (see Student Internet Sites listed above) as a resource for their archeological dig.

Dig 1:
As your group begins the excavation, you realize how remarkable the Indus Valley Civilization was. You discover the cities were well-planned with an advanced culture. Your excavation uncovers straight streets, great bathes, and well-designed sewers. What kind of people built such a highly developed urban city? Research to find how the city was laid-out, for what purpose the bathes were used, how the people were govern, and the daily life of the people.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. How does the city plan of Harappa and Mohenjodaro compare to modern city planning in the U.S.? How does a master plan help a city conduct business and grow?
  2. What type of city government did the city have? Who ran the city? How did religion play a role in government?
  3. What materials were used to houses and city buildings? How skilled were the craftsmen?
  4. How did people entertain themselves? What toys did children play with? What material were toys made from? Why was this material used?


  1. Design a model and layout of the city Harappa. Show the bathes, house, granaries, and plumbing systems. Decide where the city will be built considering the river providing fertile land, but also causing possible flooding of the city.
  2. Role-play a conversation that may have taken place between two citizens of Harappa and Mohenjodar.
  3. Choose an animal of strength and create a terra-cotta toy an Indus Valley child might have played with. Why do you think your toy would appeal to a young Indus child? Discuss toy animals children in the United States play with. What is the appeal of these toys to young children? How does that compare with Indus Valley children?

Dig 2:
You hit a treasure cove of artifacts. Your excavation has uncovered several religious images of various goddesses. An expert on Indian religion tells you the artifacts are of early Hindu religion. You decide to conduct further research to find what period of ancient India each artifact comes from and the importance of women in the Hindu religion and tradition.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. What essential roles did goddesses play in Indian art and culture?
  2. What are the characteristics of the goddess Devi? What does she symbolize?
  3. Compare Indian images of power with images of power in modern cultures.
  4. What material is each of the images made from? Why do you think these materials were used?
  5. Compare women depicted as powerful and important figures with women in other cultures and other periods of time.
  6. How are the images of women depicted in other cultures?
  7. What inferences from the figurines can you draw about the social life of the Indus Valley people?
  8. How does the Indus Valley image of women compare with modern Indian women?
  1. Create a chart or table listing the name of each goddess, her role in the Hindu religion and tradition, aspects of power each goddess represents, and other interesting or unusual information each has played in India's history.
  2. Find what period on the class time line each artifact comes from. Place a thumbnail image of each goddess you discover on a card with important or interesting facts of the time period. Place the card on the class time line.
  3. Find examples of female images depicted in sculpture from other cultures. How is each represented? What does each symbolize?
  4. Sculpt a figurine of a goddess similar to that found at Harappa or Mohenjo-Daro. Consider using materials the Indus Valley people would have used.:Terracotta, stone, metal.

Dig 3:
Your digging produces some pieces of jewelry, pottery and seals in various shapes and sizes with illustrations of cattle and other animals. What do the jewelry, pottery, and seals tell you about the life, industry, and economy of the Indus civilization?
Questions to guide your research:

  1. Did the Indus people trade with other countries? Look at a map to find possible places trade may have occurred.
  2. What goods would have been available for trade?
  3. What part did agriculture play in the economy?
  4. What jobs would the economy create?
  5. Why would some of the seals illustrate cows? What was the importance of cattle? How are cattle treated in modern India?
  6. What level of craftsmanship were the Indus Valley artisans?
  7. To what extent did the women and men adorn themselves with jewelry?
  1. Create a table or chart to list the products manufactured or produced by Ancient India. Make columns show what the product was used for and if it is still used today.
  2. Use wax or ivory soap to design sacred seals that show various animals in the Indus Valley.
  3. Use clay to create pottery in the Indus Civilization style. Consider a drinking cup, fish pot, or bottle.
  4. Select a business and trading partners. What will you manufacture? What resources will you use? What technology is needed to turn raw material into a product? Whom will you sell to or trade with? How will you market the product? What transportation is needed?

Dig 4:
Other archeological discoveries show evidence of trade with Sumeria, Mesopotamia, southern India, Afghanistan, and Persia. Continue with your archeological excavation to discover the transportation system used by the Indus Valley Civilization.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. What transportation systems were available to the Indus Valley Civilization?
  2. What trade routes would be good for raw materials produced and goods manufactured?
  3. What problems would each system encounter?
  1. Design a transportation system the Indus Valley people would have used. Choose a trade route for goods and materials and build the modes of transportation that would have been used on each route.
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Lesson 4:
Vedic/Epic Ages Background, 1500 500 BC. (Aryan Civilization).
Discuss with students the arrival of the Aryans from Central Asia and possible reasons for the end of the Indus Valley Civilization. At this time, Hinduism became a formal religion with its meaning explained in Vedas (four religious books). It is one of the world's major religions and the oldest surviving religion. The language Sanskrit was used to write the Vedas and Indian history in the form of epic poems. Two great Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata were written during this period. An offshoot of the Hindu religion is Buddhism, founded by Siddhartha Gautama an Indian prince. Buddhists follow the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama the "Enlightened One" more commonly known as Buddha.

Dig 5:
You discover some writing that you later find is a language called Sanskrit. The story tells of a nomadic people who invaded India and migrated to the Ganges river valleys and Northern plains. You search leads to other writings called the Ramayana which tells how this new group of people, Aryans, lived.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. Did the Aryans have a sophisticated and advanced culture like the Indus Valley Civilization?
  2. How did the Aryans treat each other? Trace the meaning of the Indo-European root word "ar." Does the meaning accurately describe the Aryan people?
  3. How did they entertain themselves?
  4. How were the people governed? Who were their rulers? What is a raja?
  1. Draw a map of the Indian subcontinent. Indicate mountain ranges, seas, and rivers. Show the route of the Aryans into India.
  2. Read Rama and Sita by Govinder Ram. Retell this story in dramatic play.
  3. Write an epic poem or story of your own.

Dig 6:
Your excavation produces an unusual artifact that appears to be an image of a god dancing. Your guide tells you it is Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance. Continue research on this god to discover Hindu thought and practice in Ancient India.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. What three gods make up the Hindu Trinity? What does each represent?
  2. Why is the Nataraj important to Indian culture and religion?
  3. Describe the different parts in each of the Lord of the Dance images. What do you think is the meaning of each part?
  4. Why is the Shiva dancing? What aspect do music and dance play in Indian culture?
  5. What is the Shiva holding in his hands? What might each object symbolize and mean?
  6. Is there any connection between the Aryan gods and the Indus Valley gods and goddesses?
  1. Study closely the various images of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Choose an art medium to replicate one of the Hindu gods. Generate a list of questions about your god, then gather all information available about your god to present to other students.
  2. Find stories about the Hindu gods. Share these stories with others or retell the stories in dramatic play.
  3. Create your own folk tales, stories, or poems about the gods.
  4. Study other Indian sculpture that depicts dancing. Compare the images. How are they alike? How are they different? Find music of India and create movements for one or more of the dancing gods.

Dig 7:
The excavation indicates the Indus River Valley had an unequal social balance between the people. This led to a caste system or "varnas" by the Aryans. Research this social system to find the different occupations and their place in Arayan society.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. What groups made up the social classes?
  2. Could one move from one social class to another?
  3. Does the United States have social classes? How does it differ from the Aryan caste system?
  4. What effect did the caste system have on future Indian generations?
  1. Create a chart that shows the various social classes of India. Create a similar chart for social classes in the United States. Compare the two.
  2. Role play a conversation between two Aryans with different social status.
  3. Study the images of Rajah. Select one of the watercolors and write a story about the Rajah and the possible events occurring in the watercolor.
  4. Read other stories about Rajah and create your own opaque watercolor of Rajah to go with the story.

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Lesson 5:
The Gupta Empire (320 AD 500 AD)
The Gupta period was also known as the "Golden Age" of India and existed at about the same time as the Roman Empire. Villages were protected by a "squad," a division of the royal army. Each squad consisted of one elephant, one chariot, three armored cavalrymen and five foot soldiers. This civilization produced great literature and works of art and made great progress in science. The paintings from the Ajanta and Ellora caves are considered some of the greatest Indian works of art and tell a great deal about the daily life of the people. Hinduism was the practiced religion of the Gupta rulers, but Buddhism peacefully coexisted with it.

Dig 8:
Your excavation uncovers an artifact of a man with an elephant head. You learn this is Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and is worshiped as the god of wisdom, education, literature, and fine arts. He also is the deity who can remove obstacles. Your guide tells you he is a very popular god with festivals celebrated in his honor. His story is told in the great epic Mahabharata. You decide to find more information about these festivals and the honored Ganesha.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. Where are the festivals held? What arrangements are made for the festival?
  2. Why does he have an elephant head? What meaning does it have?
  3. What is the meaning of the mouse with Ganesha?
  4. Why does he have multiple arms?
  5. What material was used to make the statue? What was the process the artisan used to make the statue?
  1. Find stories about Ganesha and retell them to the class.
  2. Create your own story about Ganesha telling how he got his head.
  3. Study all the images of Ganesha carefully. Write a description of the god with explanation of his unique form.
  4. Decide on an art medium to recreate your own Ganesha.
  5. Compare the Dancing Ganesha with other Indian sculptures. How are they alike and different? What mood does each convey? What did each symbolize? What purpose did each serve? Find images in magazines and other resources that symbolize similar themes as the Indian sculptures. Create a collage or other mixed-media work with the images you have found.
  6. Think of things you value in your life. What persons in life, history, or literature best represent these values? Find images that symbolize these values. Use wax or ivory soap to sculpt a work or art that symbolizes one or more of these values.

Dig 9:
You "dig" into a wealth of India literature. Read the following literature or find others on your own. Then complete one or more of the activities.

  1. Read the tale of Rama and Sita retold from the Ramayana
  2. The Bhagavad Gita from the Mahabharata
  3. Indian Folk-Tales and Legends, Pratibha Nath
  4. In Worship of Shiva, Shanta Rameshwar Rao
  5. The Troublesome Slippers
  6. Two Fish and a Frog from the Panchatantra
  7. Panther's Moon and Other Stories, Ruskin Bond
Questions to think about as you read:
  1. What are the ideas of karma and yoga?
  2. How are the folk tales alike or different from folk tales from other countries?
  3. What lessons are being taught in the Ramayana, Panchatantra, and Mahabharata? Does the American culture have literature that teaches moral lessons or history? How do they compare?
  4. How does the character Sita serve as a role model for Hindu women? How are ideals for women portrayed in other cultures? What women in U.S. history have served as role models? Are there women role models today in Indian and American cultures?
  1. Retell the stories in dramatic play.
  2. Perform a Reader's Theater of Ramayana.
  3. Make shadow puppets and perform one of the tales from Ramayana.
  4. The characters in Ramayana had to make moral decisions and choices. Think about moral decisions and choices you and your fellow students have to make. Compare your moral dilemmas with those in the stories. Write a story about a moral choice you or your friends might face.
  5. Write and illustrate a new folktale based on the Hindu tradition.

Dig 10:
A large number of the artifacts discovered in your excavation depict animals in some form or image. Look at all the images to determine what role and significance animals play in Indian religion, mythology, and literature.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. What attributes do the animals represent in the paintings and sculpture?
  2. What animals are depicted in Indian art?
  3. What importance does the elephant play in Indian history, tradition, and culture?
  1. Look at one or more of the paintings that show an animal such as a tiger or elephant. What is the posture or pose in each one? Where is the head, the position of the elephant's trunk, the look in the eyes, and what is the expression on his face? What do you think the animal is thinking? What do you think the animal symbolizes? What is happening in the painting? Illustrate a storyboard that shows what happened before and after the scene depicted in the painting. Write a narrative to the story.
  2. Look at the painting Captive Elephant from the Williams College Museum of Art (Grove Dictionary of Art Online database), opaque watercolor with gold. Discuss what you think is happening in the picture. How is the elephant depicted? Compare the captive elephant with captive elephants in zoos. Contact the Indianapolis Zoo for information on their recent research of elephants, Project Elephant. As a group, decide upon an image to illustrate with watercolor. Decide if the drawing will represent realism, structuralism, or expressionistic as a form of art. Explain the reasoning for your choice.
  3. What animals have been held great importance or value in American culture? Compare them with the elephant and tiger in Indian culture. Create a chart to show the attributes, symbols, and values of the animals. You may want to include animals from other cultures in the comparison.
  4. Choose an animal to represent in an artwork of your choice of medium. Why did you choose the animal? What are the attributes of the animal? What theme does the animal symbolize? Write a descriptive essay about your animal.

Dig 11:
Your dig uncovers several Buddha sculptures. You now turn your attention to this other religion that no longer enjoys the widespread worship of Indians as Hinduism but nonetheless played an important part in the history of India. You turn your attention to the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha, and his enlightenment to become the Buddha Shakyamuni.
Questions to guide your research:

  1. What are the important components of Buddhism?
  2. How has the enlightenment been represented in Buddha art? How is Buddha traditionally portrayed?
  3. How are male and female both personified in Buddha deity? How are they portrayed in India art?
  4. The lotus flower is a symbol in both Hinduism and Buddhism. What is the meaning and importance of the lotus flower in both religions? How is it used in Indian art?
  5. What material were the Buddha images made from? How has the material changed from that of the Indus Civilization as an art form in the artist's hands?
  6. Art is used extensively as a means of worship in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Is this true for Christianity and Islam? How is art used in Christianity and Islam?
  1. Compare one of the Hindu deities with one of the Buddha deities. How are they alike? How are they different? What role does each play? What is their importance in Indian culture and history?
  2. Find examples of art in the Christian and Islamic religions. Compare them with the Hindu and Buddha images.
  3. Pair off in your group as patrons and artists. The patrons will commission the artists to produce a symbol or logo for something that the patron holds in great esteem or value. The artist will need to know why the item or idea is important to the patron; its major strengths; a definition of what it is, what it does, or what it represents; what you want people to think or feel when they see the image; type of image, traditional or abstract; shape; keywords about the symbol; material to be used drawing, painting, sculpture.
  4. Gestures of the hands are very important in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Study the position of the hands in the Hindu and Buddha images. What do you think the gestures mean in each of the images? Are gestures important in other cultures? Find examples from other cultures of sculpture that show gestures. Compare with the Hindu and Buddha images. How is each used? What do you think the gestures mean?
  5. Bring in examples of three-dimensional forms or sculpture. Study the symmetry and balance of each piece. What material is the object made from? What detail is in each piece? Does the piece have aesthetic qualities? Does it create an emotion in you? Is it an abstract, structured artistic accomplishment or a more traditional, natural, and realistic representation? Use this information to write a critique of one or more of the pieces and judge the success of the work. Read your critique to each member in your group. Do you agree with each other's assessment of the sculpture? Discuss why your critiques and assessments may differ.
  6. Tell the story of Siddhartha's enlightenment and renouncement of noble birth to become the Buddha Shakyamuni in a narrative, prose, or dialogue. Your group may choose to act this out for the rest of the class.

Dig 12:
The government of the Gupta period is more complex than previous periods with far less movement in the caste system. Look at several paintings that show nobility and royalty. How is their image portrayed in each piece of art? How are they portrayed in literature?
Questions to guide your research:

  1. How important is an image to nobility?
  2. Over the centuries, what images have nobility and persons in high offices tried to convey?
  3. How important is an image to a person in leadership?
  4. Are images important to other public figures such as sport figures, musicians, and movie stars?
  1. Do the paintings show a realistic event? How would the picture look if it were a photograph? Find a folktale or story that fits one of the paintings to retell to the class or choose a painting and write your own story about the event.
  2. Most of the paintings are done with watercolor. How do the Indian watercolors differ from 18th and 19th century European watercolors or contemporary watercolors? Experiment with watercolor to create your own scene in the Indian style. Ask your art teacher to help with this activity.
  3. Look at images of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. How did the artists portray them? Consider their posture, pose, expression, and surroundings. What words describe their characteristics? How do they compare with the nobles in the Indian paintings?
  4. Find pictures of contemporary public figures in magazines. How are they portrayed in the photographs? Consider their posture, pose, expression, and surroundings. List words that describe their attributes as seen in the photograph. Write an imaginative story about the scene or paint a watercolor of the scene in the same style as Indian watercolors.
  5. Choose a folktale all in your group enjoy. Create a mural to illustrate the folktale. Decide how the work of the composition will be divided among your group. Who will paint background? Who will pencil in the design? Who will paint the details? Who will design each scene?
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Culminating Class Activity:

  1. Plan and host a festival of Ganesha.
  2. Select one image that best represents each of the periods in Indian history the class has studied. Discuss why each image was chosen. Display in a hallway or library with a summary and other chosen activities of the period.

| Indiana Standards | Teacher Resources | Student Resources | Introduction | Lesson 1 |
| Lesson 2 | Lesson 3 | Lesson 4 | Lesson 5 | Culminating Class Activity |