Lesson video

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I'm Mr. Hutchinson and we're learning all about the, what're we learning about? The Shang Dynasty.

That's right, we're learning all about the Shang Dynasty in ancient China.

Take a moment, take a deep breath.

Have you got a pen or a pencil? That's fine, good.

Have you got a piece of paper or a book? Brilliant.

Have you got a drink? Maybe some water? Have you got your brain switched on? Then we're all ready to go.

Make sure you've got no distractions around you.

Today, we're going to be learning, about what life was like, for people in the Shang Dynasty.

What was life like, when people living in the Shang Dynasty? All of those thousands of years.

And so to do that, we're going to first look at a timeline.

Then, we will think about a place called The Yellow River, a river called The Yellow River in China.

Then we'll learn about what kind of food and drink, people in the Shang Dynasty ate and drank.

Then we'll think about social classes, different groups of people.

So our social classes, different group of people, have different kinds of things.

And then we've got our end of lesson quiz.

So let's start with our timeline.

Here is our timeline.

You can see it here and let's put 2020 on there, the year that we are in now.

This is now, point to now, great.

That's where we are now.

Now, I was born, how old do you think I am? You come look at me.

Can you see any wrinkles? Well I got some wrinkles there.

How old do you think I am? Did you say 22? Well done.

You are, no I'm not 22.

I am 31.

And that means, that I was born, in 1988.

So I'm going to put that on there.

1988 on this number line and you can see this, right next to 2020.

It's very, very close on my number line, because it's only 31 years and this number line, goes all the way back, to the year zero.

When we started counting the years, it's not the start of time, it's just when we started counting the years and it's when Jesus was born.

And so this period here, is 2020 years.

From zero to 2020, is 2000 years.

And if we go back another 1,600 years, then we get to when the Shang Dynasty started.

So it's 2000 years to get to zero, and then another 1,600 years.

So how much altogether? 2000 add 1,600, is 3,600 or 3,620, if you added the 20 on as well.

So it was a really long time ago and the Shang Dynasty lasted for almost 600 years.

The Shang Dynasty ended around 1066 BCE.

So it lasted for about 534 years.

That's how long it lasted for.

And that was the Shang Dynasty.

Now that's a really long time.

Over 500 years is a really, really long time.

And so life wasn't the same for the Shang all through that different period.

It changed, of course it did.

We don't live in the same way that people lived, 300 years ago.

Did we? So, when we talk about the Shang Dynasty, we're going to be talking about, how they lived quite generally, okay? And it would have been different at different times, but that's okay.

We're just going to talk on generally, how was the Shang Dynasty, different to what it's like today in 2020? So the first thing I'd like you to do, the first task is, have a look at that timeline.

I'd like you to copy it into your book or your piece of paper.

So draw over a nice straight line if you've got a ruler or something straight that you can use to draw with a straight line.

And then I'd like you to draw in any other events you know.

It could be, some other events that you've studied in history in your school, that, you know, when they were, it could be important events in your life or in people that knows life.

Write down any events that you know, and add them into this number line.

Pause the video and do that now.


Well done everybody.

So we've done the first part of our lesson.

We know when it was and it was over a long period of time and it would have been different across that bit of time.

So that's when it was, where was it? Well, the Shang Dynasty was on something called, The Yellow River.

So there's a river and it's still there in China now, called The Yellow River.

So let's get back to our map.

Can we find China? There it is.

Point to China.

Point to China on our map.

Point to England, where we live and point to China.

Let's zoom into China.

Get ready, I need your help to zoom.

So we're going to zoom by doing this, like grab the screen and pull it towards you.

Three, two, one.

Oh, well done, you did it.

So you zoomed into China and if you look very carefully, you will be able to see, that there is some little blue lines and those little blue lines, are rivers, and we're going to be looking at one of those rivers.

So let me make the river that we're looking at a little bit clearer for you now.

So I'm going to change the map a little bit and it's this river here, The Yellow River.

So go back.

See if you can find it on this map.

I'll show you again.

Here it is.

Curves across, goes up and around.

Can you find that river on this map? And that's called The Yellow River.

What's it called? Say it to me.

Tell your screen.

It's called the, good it's called The Yellow River.

Why is it called The Yellow River? Why do you think that it's called The Yellow River? Have a little bit of a think.

Why do you think it's called The Yellow River? Did you say it's called The Yellow River because it's yellow? If you did, then you're right.

The Yellow River, often looks yellow.

Here's a picture of it.

This is actually a picture of, Hukou Waterfall, the biggest waterfall of The Yellow River.

And it looks yellow.

It looks yellow, because it's full of silt.

Silt is like a kind of sand.

It's a kind of sand that usually is on the bottom of a river, but in The Yellow River, it's all through the river, cause it's moving so quick.

That's a really good thing, because that silt makes the land fertile.

My turn your turn, fertile.



If something is fertile, it means that, lots can grow out of it.

So if land is fertile, you can grow lots of things.

So that's really wonderful, that The Yellow River makes the land fertile.

So the Shang people, could grow things and that's why they lived around The Yellow River.

But it wasn't all good.

It was also called The River of Sorrow, or The River of Sadness.

Why do you think it was called The River of Sorrow? Why do you think it was called The River of Sadness? Well sometimes, that silt, would get so much, that it would clog up the river and it would flood and that river would then drown people or flood their fields or wash their houses away, and so it was kind of like The River of Sorrow, The River of Sadness.

In one way, it was bringing them life, because it was putting the silt down, that would let their plants grow, so that they can eat.

But in another way, it was The River of Sadness, because it would clog up with that silt sometimes and drown everybody and so, it was The River of Sorrow.

And people would grow wheat.

They would grow wheat around The Yellow River cause it was a really good place to grow wheat and we use wheat, to make flour.

I've been looking for some flour recently because I wanted to do some baking, but I can't buy any flour anywhere.

Everybody's already bought it, cause they enjoying baking as well.

But the Shang people, have lots of wheat and they got all of this from The Yellow River.

So let's try that vocabulary one more time.

There's silt, you say it.

And what is silt? Good, it's kind of like sand or mud at the bottom of the river or in the river.

It makes the land fertile, your turn, fertile.

What does it mean if land is fertile? Good, it means that things can grow in the land.

It's called The River of Sorrow.

Why was it called The River of Sorrow? Good, it would flood and drown people or wash their houses away.

And what do people grow? Good.

What did they grow? Good.

And what can you make out of wheat? You can make flour, which makes bread.


So let's see if you can put all of that new knowledge, from The Yellow River, in the Shang Dynasty to the test.

I've got three sentences for you, okay? I'm going to give you three sentences and I want you to finish these sentences.

Here they are.

Copy and complete these sentences.

First, The Yellow River was important to the Shang Dynasty, but? Next, The Yellow River was important to the Shang Dynasty because? And finally, The Yellow River was important to the Shang Dynasty, so? So you need to think about The Yellow River, within the Shang Dynasty and think about how people used it in different ways and how you can think about it in different ways, by finishing those sentences.

Pause the video and finish those sentences now.

Wow, you're working so hard there, thinking really hard all about The Yellow River.

So you might have said here that, The Yellow River was important to people in the Shang Dynasty, but, it would sometimes flood and kill everybody or drown everybody.

You might have said, The Yellow River was important to people in the Shang Dynasty because, it made the land fertile or the silt made the land fertile so that they could grow wheat.

And you might just said The Yellow River was important to the Shang Dynasty, so, they lived close to it and the civilization built up around it.

If you wrote those ideas, then you can give yourself a tick, if you didn't, then you could always pause the video and edit it, to add in those ideas.

So we've already got a bit of a clue about the sorts of things that the Shang Dynasty were growing.

The people in ancient China around the Shang were growing.

Let's find out a little bit more about that, by turning our attention now to food and drink.

So we're going to look at three things, that lots of people in the Shang Dynasty, would eat and drink.

They would eat, they would drink lots of beer because you can make beer from the different kinds of grains that they were growing.

You put them in a barrel, you put some yeast in, let it mix up and let it ferment and leave it, and then you've got beer and beer can actually give you some nutrients cause it's kind of bready cause you used the same stuff that you make bread.

So they would use beer as part of their diet.

They might also use that wheat to make bread and they might also use cheese.

These were common things that people in the Shang Dynasty ate.

Sometimes, when we think about China, people, eat a lot of rice or noodles and that they drink a lot of tea.

That's not really the case in the Shang Dynasty.

In the Northern fields, where the Shang people were, it wasn't good for growing rice.

That's better in the south of China.

We're looking at the north of China and it's better to grow wheat for bread in the Shang Dynasty.

So they didn't really grow tea plants, and they didn't really grow rice plants.

They grew wheat and they use that to make beer and bread.

They were more likely to have those sorts of things.

So let's put that to the test.

Let's see if you can remember what they ate and drank.

Here's a question for you.

I'd like you to write out this sentence.

I've tried to trick you, by giving you two options.

So, people living in the Shang Dynasty would eat mostly, bread or rice, which is the right one? And they would mostly drink tea or beer, which is the correct one? Pause the video and write out what the correct option is, now.


Well done.

You're awesome.

Got your options there, let's see if they were correct.

You should have, they mostly ate bread and they mostly drank beer.

So your sentence should read, people in the Shang, living in the Shang Dynasty, would mostly eat bread and drink beer.

Well done if you've got those options, give it a tick.

If you didn't give it those options, remember, it doesn't matter, you can just do the different colour pen.

You can just neatly put a line through it and edit it so you've got the right ideas.

So, we know where they lived, we know when they, we know what they ate and drank, let's find out let's little about this idea of social classes.

Social classes, try and say it, social classes.


So the social class, a social class is just a sort of group and we usually group people together by things like how much money they have, what kinds of jobs they have, where they sort of like live and we call people that have similar jobs and similar amounts of money, we say there on one group, one social class.

So what sort of social classes were there in the Shang Dynasty? Well, right at the bottom, there were the, what we sometimes called the working class.

People that worked all day long.

They might be farmers or soldiers or craftsmen, making sort of like, different sorts of like things, crafty things, different kinds of pots or weapons and they were right at the bottom.

They didn't get paid very much.

They probably didn't own their own land.

They were at the bottom.

Above them, we have what's sometimes called, the noble classes.

So the noble classes, they didn't have work so much, because they owned lots of land and they owned lots of wealth.

Money in the Shang Dynasty was, for money they used cowrie shells, which were special kind of seashell like a cowrie shell, they used that as money.

Now, some people would have lots and lots of cowrie shells and they give them to their children and they'd lend them out so they can get more back, and so they had lots of cowrie shells and money and power and that's the noble classes.

So, the working classes, they don't have so much money, they don't have, they have to work a lot for not much money because they don't own their land.

The noble classes, they have lots of servants and they own lots of land and the priests, the Royal family, they would be there.

Right at the top is the emperor.

The most powerful and richest person in the empire.

But actually there's somebody above the emperor who we'll find out a little bit more about in the next lesson.

So this is a little bit of a teaser, because the emperor you'll remember, became emperor, when there was a mandate of heaven.

Who gave the mandate of heaven? Those were the gods or their ancestors and Shangdi was the name of their Supreme God.

Their main God.

So let's put all of that to the test.

I'd like you in this task, to put down some different ideas of people who were working class in the Shang Dynasty and people that were in noble class.

What were the differences, between those two groups of people? Pause the video and write down all the differences that you can now, between those two different groups.

Well done, I've jotted down some answers, and so I'm going to put them down.

See if you've got the same ideas, and if you didn't, you can add them in to improve your notes.

So, the first difference that I think that I got, was that, the jobs that they had.

So the working classes would be farmers, or craftsmen or soldiers, and the noble classes might be priests or Royal family, or landowners.

Second of all, the noble classes would have lots of servants and people to work for them, whereas the working class, would work for the landowner or the noble classes.

Working classes would probably live in the countryside and basic homes, and the noble classes would live in palaces and big cities.

Working classes would just have kind of basic food like the bread and maybe some cheese and the beer, whereas the noble classes would be able to afford to slaughter animals and have luxury foods and meat.

And the working classes wouldn't have much money, whereas the noble classes would have lots and lots of cowrie shells.

So well done everybody.

That's the end of our lesson.

We covered a lot in that lesson.

So well done, well done for working so hard.

I would love to see your work.

Just like Millie at the start.

I'd love for you to send in your work.

And you can do that, your parents need to do it, and they need to send a tweet with learn with, learnwithoak and that should go to @oaknational and if you put that hashtag, then I'll be able to see it and I'll be able to read your work, and I would love to read your work.

You're working so hard and I'm really proud of you and you should be really proud of yourself.

And I want you to read your work so I can see it and tell you how brilliant you are at history, learning all about the Shang Dynasty.

And I'll see you for lesson four of the Shang Dynasty.

Thanks so much everybody.