ancient china

Hammurabi, China and the Xiang Dynasty, and The Israelites in Slavery

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Mystery of History Volume 1, Week 6: Hammurabi, China and the Shang Dynasty, and The Israelites in Slavery

This week, my teens and tweens are doing the writing lesson from Institute for Excellence in Writing — lesson 7 on the pyramids.

Lesson 16: Hammurabi

We began this day by going over the Challenge Cards from Lesson 1 through Lesson 15. I love these so much because it repeatedly reinforces what the kids have studied so that it’s not just lost in a jumble of forgotten lessons. The kids like it, too.

We read the MOH lesson on Hammurabi, and then watched this short video from The Federalist Society:

Next, I downloaded this really great lesson from Teachers Pay Teachers (for just $3.75). It’s perfect because it has printables for all age ranges. I gave each kids a copy of the “laws” printout. We went over the laws and discussed how harsh they seemed (the death penalty was common for so many crimes!). And I used three different versions of the printable “Who Was Hammurabi” for different aged kids. It was really good for discussion!

Copywork for this lesson:

One of the more famous leaders of the old Babylonian Empire was Hammurabi. In 1901 a great discovery was made in Susa, an ancient Babylonian city. Archaeologists found a stone monument on which was written Hammurabi’s code of three hundred laws.

We added Hammurabi to our timeline in the 1700s B.C. and added Babylon to the map. I also assigned reading about Babylon in our Usborne World History books.

Lesson 17: The Israelites in Slavery

As with previous lessons that take place in the Bible, we went straight to the scriptures first. I pointed out that we have finally completed Genesis, covering hundreds of years and ending with the death of Joseph. I read Exodus chapter 1 aloud to the kids, and then read the MOH lesson.

Copywork for this lesson:

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. Exodus 1:8-11

We followed this up with timeline and map work from the MOH Companion Guide.

(Note: I went slightly out of order next. Since we were in Exodus, I went from Lesson 17 to Lesson 19: Moses and the Exodus, and then went back to Lesson 18: China and the Shang Dynasty.)

Lesson 18: China and the Shang Dynasty

We began this lesson by looking at the map of China as the Companion guide suggested, and noting how the natural boundaries kept it so isolated for so long. This was followed by reading the MOH lesson, and watching a video.

This one was so interesting! It is a short interview about how silk is made from the silkworm in China.

Here is another good link for learning about the silkworm and how silk is made (from Design Boom)

Beginning at this point in Ancient History, my teens are also reading History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer. It’s a good highschool/college level version of Story of the World, complete with a Study Guide. For this lesson, they are reading Chapter 21 and completing the accompanying study guide and map activities.

My 12-year-old did the cursive writing practice on Ancient China from Draw and Write Through History, while my 9-year-old drew a silkworm moth from the same book.

My 9 and 12-year-olds enjoyed practicing writing Chinese numbers with this free printable.

Copywork for this lesson:

The Chinese culture is thought to be the oldest pure remnant of an ancient civilization that still exists. As for government, the Chinese have almost always been ruled by dynasties. A dynasty is a family that obtains power and keeps it, sometimes for centuries at a time, by passing it on to their children when they grow up. Ten or more dynasties have ruled China in this fashion.

I found this free printable Ancient China Pack from Homeschool Den. It looks fun for a more extended study.

I also found a really cute complete unit study on silkworms at Simple Living Creative Learning. It’s designed for grades 1-4, and has an addon for PreK and Kindergarten.

Both of these studies could be used to add another day or two on to your study.

My 9 and 12-year-olds are also now reading from Usborne’s Stories From Ancient China, as well as the pages on the Shang Dynasty in the Usborne World History book.

To finish up, we added these events to our timelines, did the mapwork in the Companion Guide, my 9 & 12 year olds added the China and Moses sections to their labpooks (folder books), and we did the Week 6 quiz.

Be sure to check out all the great book suggestions and activity ideas in the Mystery of History Companion Guide! Follow the entire course with us at the main Mystery of History Volume 1 page here.

Do you have some fun ideas for these lessons? Comment below!


Nicki Truesdell

2nd-generation homeschooler, author of Anyone Can Homeschool, and mother of 5.

Texas born and raised, she is a homemaker at heart, and loves books, freedom, history and quilts. 

Nicki believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. 

Nicki is also a member of the
Texas Home Educators Board of Directors.  

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