Groundbreaking Greeks

This project teaches children about developments and changes over six periods of ancient Greek history, focusing on the city state of Athens in the Classical age, and exploring the lasting legacy of ancient Greece.

Children will understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses.


Different world history civilisations existed before, after and alongside others. For example, the ancient Sumer existed from c4500 BC to c1900 BC and the ancient Egyptians from c3100 BC to 30 BC.

There are six periods in ancient Greek history: the Minoan civilisation (c3000 BC–c1100 BC), the Mycenaean civilisation (c1600 BC–c1100 BC), the Dark Age (c1100 BC–c800 BC), the Archaic period (c800 BC–c500 BC), the Classical period (c500 BC–323 BC) and the Hellenistic period (323 BC–30 BC).


Sequence and make connections between periods of world history on a timeline.

Dynamic Dynasties

This project teaches children about the history of ancient China, focusing primarily on the Shang Dynasty, and explores the lasting legacy of the first five Chinese dynasties, some of which can still be seen in the world today.


Historical terms include topic related vocabulary, which may include abstract nouns, such as peasantry, civilisation, treason, empire, rebellion and revolt.

Oracle bones are pieces of turtle shell, cow bone or sheep bone, which were found at Yinxu. They were inscribed with questions and burned with hot rods until they cracked. Diviners, priests or the king interpreted the cracks to find answers to the questions and make decisions. The inscriptions on the oracle bones have provided information about life in the Shang Dynasty.

Warfare was a way of life in the Shang Dynasty because of attacks from neighbouring tribes. The army was well organised and consisted of foot soldiers, archers and chariot drivers. Soldiers were trained in martial arts and had bronze weapons and armour, which gave them an advantage over their enemies.

Aspects of history that can be compared and contrasted include rulers and monarchs, everyday life, homes and work, technology and innovation.

The Shang Dynasty was similar to other Bronze Age societies because they had a hierarchy, believed in spirits and the afterlife and had skilled craftspeople. The Shang Dynasty was different because the Chinese Bronze Age started later, bronze was used primarily for elaborate ritual vessels and the skills of the Shang Dynasty craftspeople were far superior to any other civilisation.

Key aspects of British history include the rise, fall and actions of the monarchy; improvements in technology; exploration; disease; the lives of the rich and poor and changes in everyday life.

The characteristics of ancient civilisations include cities, government, language, writing, customs, numerical systems, calendars, architecture, art, religion, inventions and social structures, all of which have influenced the world over the last 5000 years.

The people of the Shang Dynasty had five important religious beliefs. These were:

  • three realms: heaven, earth and the underworld
  • ancestors were very important
  • the human body had two souls
  • sacrifices were very important
  • special people could communicate with spirits.

They believed in a supreme god, called Shangdi, and other gods, who controlled different aspects of nature. They gave sacrifices to the gods and ancestors and had to bury the dead correctly. Gods and ancestors helped the people of the Shang Dynasty to predict the future using oracle bones.

Bronze was significant in the Shang Dynasty because it was difficult to produce, a huge number of people were involved and the casting technique was technologically advanced. Craftspeople made high quality objects, including ritual bronzes for sacrifices and burials.

The king was at the top of the hierarchy. He had absolute power, fought enemy clans and communicated with the gods and ancestors. Aristocrats were the king’s relatives and other nobles. They worked as priests, advisors or government officials. The military included foot soldiers, archers and chariot warriors. They were very well respected. Craftspeople made objects from bronze, jade, stone, wood and silk, and were wealthy. Peasants farmed the land. They were respected, but paid heavy taxes and were often without a home or food. Slaves were criminals or prisoners of war, and were at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

People lived in cities, towns and villages in the Yellow River Valley. Cities were surrounded by defensive walls and divided into separate sections. Three generations of a family usually lived together, with the oldest man as the head of the family. People worshipped their ancestors and had altars at home. Jobs depended on a person’s social class and family profession. Life was different for rich and poor. The wealthy lived in large rectangular houses, wore silk clothes and enjoyed leisure time. The poor lived in homes dug from the earth, wore clothes made from hemp and worked long hours.

Power in ancient civilisations drove the growth of empires and the development of trade, wealth, arts and culture, society, technology and beliefs. Misuse of power and poor leadership caused these aspects of civilisation to decline.

Aspects of history are significant because they had an impact on a vast number of people, are remembered and commemorated or influence the way we live today.

The legacy of ancient China can still be seen in the world today, including Confucianism, systems of government, traditional crafts and structures, inventions, writing, family structure and food and drink.

Beliefs can prompt an individual to take action, such as to fight for change, fight wars, oppress or free individuals or groups of people, create temples and tombs or protest against injustice.

Sima Qian wrote the Records of the Grand Historian in 94 BC and described the Shang Dynasty kings. Di Xin was the last Shang Dynasty king who indulged in wine and excess, collected money from the poor and built palaces. People thought that his behaviour would anger the gods and ancestors, but people who challenged him were punished or killed. The neighbouring Zhou clan invaded the Shang state to stop Di Xin’s reign because his actions went against their beliefs. King Wu of Zhou gained control of the Shang state c1046 BC and Di Xin set fire to his palace and committed suicide.

Sources of historical information can have varying degrees of accuracy, depending on who wrote them, when they were written and the perspective of the writer.The Yellow Emperor of the Xia Dynasty might not have existed. Legends tell of the reign of the Yellow Emperor and the first dynasty, which created the system of hereditary rule that lasted for thousands of years. There may be truth in the stories, but certain aspects, like the Yellow Emperor’s four faces and journey to heaven on a dragon, make people question the validity of the stories as evidence.

Different world history civilisations existed before, after and alongside others. For example, the ancient Sumer existed from c4500 BC to c1900 BC and the ancient Egyptians from c3100 BC to 30 BC.

China is the longest lasting civilisation. The first five Chinese Dynasties were the Xia Dynasty (c2070–c1600 BC), Shang Dynasty (c1600–c1046 BC), Zhou Dynasty, which was split into the Western Zhou Dynasty (c1046–c771 BC) and Eastern Zhou Dynasty (c771–c256 BC), Qin Dynasty (c221–c207 BC) and Han Dynasty (c206 BC–cAD 220).

The characteristics of past civilisations include cities, rule and government, forms of writing, numerical systems, calendars, architecture, art, religion, inventions and set social structures.

Silk and jade objects have been produced in China for thousands of years, since prehistoric times. Jade is a hard, rare stone that is difficult to carve and highly valued. People believe that jade has special powers and virtues. Silk is a delicate fabric made by unwinding a fine thread from a silkworm cocoon before it is woven. Silk was a luxurious status symbol in ancient China and silk making was a closely guarded secret.

Using a range of historical sources and artefacts can reveal a clearer and more accurate picture about a historical event or person.

Wang Yirong discovered ancient Chinese writing on bones given as medicine in 1899. He traced the bones to the modern city of Anyang and discovered the last capital of the Shang Dynasty, Yin. Over 100,000 oracle bones, the ruins of buildings, bronze and jade artefacts and warrior queen Fu Hao’s tomb were found during a dig at Yinxu in 1928. This was the first evidence that the Shang Dynasty had existed.

Fu Hao was a wife of King Wu Ding, king of the Shang Dynasty. She was a military leader and lead an army of 13,000 men, which was highly unusual for a woman. She was also a politician and a spiritual leader. She was buried in a tomb, which was a great honour, with cowrie shells, jewellery, weapons, ritual bronzes and oracle bones.


Articulate and organise important information and detailed historical accounts using topic related vocabulary.

Compare and contrast an aspect of history across two or more periods studied.

Create an in-depth study of an aspect of British history beyond 1066.

Create an in-depth study of the characteristics and importance of a past or ancient civilisation or society (people, culture, art, politics, hierarchy).

Describe the significance, impact and legacy of power in ancient civilisations.

Explain why an aspect of world history is significant.

Explore and explain how the religious, political, scientific or personal beliefs of a significant individual caused them to behave in a particular way.

Explore the validity of a range of historical reports and use books, technology and other sources to check accuracy.

Sequence and make connections between periods of world history on a timeline.

Study a feature of a past civilisation or society.

Use a range of historical sources or artefacts to build a picture of a historical event or person.



Sow, Grow and Farm

This project teaches children about the features and characteristics of land use in agricultural regions across the world, including a detailed exploration of significant environmental areas.

Children will describe and understand key aspects of human geography, including: types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water.


Agricultural land use in the UK can be divided into three main types, arable (growing crops), pastoral (livestock) and mixed (arable and pastoral). An allotment is a small piece of land used to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers. A wide variety of crops are farmed in the UK, such as wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, other vegetables, fruits and oilseed rape. A wide variety of livestock are reared on farms in the UK, such as sheep, dairy cattle, beef cattle, poultry and pigs.


Describe in detail the different types of agricultural land use in the UK.

Investigating Our World

This essential skills and knowledge project teaches children about locating map features using a range of methods. They learn about the Prime Meridian, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and worldwide time zones and study interconnected climate zones, vegetation belts and biomes. Children learn about human geography and capital cities worldwide before looking at the UK motorway network and settlements. They carry out an enquiry to identify local settlement types.


Aerial photography is used in cartography, land-use planning and environmental studies. It can be used alongside maps to find out detailed information about a place, or places.

Transport networks can be tangible, such as rails, roads or canals, or intangible, such as air and sea corridors. These networks link places together and allow for the movement of people and goods. Transport networks are usually built where there is a high demand for the movement of people or goods. They run between places where journeys start or finish, such as airports, bus stations, ferry terminals or railway stations.

A motorway is a main road built for fast travel over long distances. In the United Kingdom, they run north to south and east to west across the country, connecting towns and cities and transport links and allowing people and goods to be moved quickly.

Settlements come in many different sizes and these can be ranked according to their population and the level of services available. A settlement hierarchy includes hamlet, village, town, city and large city.

Settlement hierarchy is a way of grouping and ranking settlements according to their type, significance, number and size. This can be shown in a settlement hierarchy diagram. Settlements get bigger, have a larger population and have more facilities, workplaces and transport links as you move up the settlement hierarchy diagram. The number of each type of settlement decreases as you move down the settlement hierarchy diagram.

Settlement hierarchy is a way of grouping and ranking settlements according to their type, significance, number and size. This can be shown in a settlement hierarchy diagram. Settlements get bigger, have a larger population and have more facilities, workplaces and transport links as you move up the settlement hierarchy diagram. The number of each type of settlement decreases as you move down the settlement hierarchy diagram.

Relative location is where something is found in comparison with other features.

The seven continents (Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America) vary in size, shape, location, population and climate.

Areas of human geography that can be compared between continents include, population, population density, literacy rates, wealth, life expectancy and religion.

Industries can make their manufacturing processes more sustainable and better for the environment by using renewable energy sources, reducing, reusing and recycling and sharing resources.

The geographical term ‘relief’ describes the difference between the highest and lowest elevations of an area. Relief maps show the contours of land based on shape and height. Contour lines show the elevation of the land, joining places of the same height above sea level. They are usually an orange or brown colour. Contour lines that are close together represent ground that is steep. Contour lines that are far apart show ground that is gently sloping or flat.

The Prime (or Greenwich) Meridian is an imaginary line that divides the Earth into eastern and western hemispheres. The time at Greenwich is called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Each time zone that is 15 degrees to the west of Greenwich is another hour earlier than GMT. Each time zone 15 degrees to the east is another hour later.

The Earth has five climate zones: desert, Mediterranean, polar, temperate and tropical. Mountains have variable climates depending on altitude. A biome is a large ecological area on the Earth’s surface, such as desert, forest, grassland, tundra and aquatic. Biomes are often defined by a range of factors, such as temperature, climate, relief, geology, soils and vegetation.

Climate zones have the same average weather conditions, such as temperature, rainfall and seasons. The climate determines the vegetation, or plants, of an area.

Vegetation belts are areas where certain species of plant grow. As animals eat plants, plants that grow in a vegetation belt determine the animals that live there.

Biomes are large areas that share similar climates, vegetation belts and animal species. They also include aquatic areas.

Major cities around the world include London in the UK, New York in the USA, Shanghai in China, Istanbul in Turkey, Moscow in Russia, Manila in the Philippines, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya, Baghdad in Iraq, Damascus in Syria and Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Capital cities are usually the seat of government of a country. They are large settlements with a wide range of human features and transport links and can be a centre for business and trade.

Geographical data, such as demographics or economic statistics, can be used as evidence to support conclusions.

Compass points can be used to describe the relationship of features to each other, or to describe the direction of travel. Accurate grid references identify the position of key physical and human features.

Scale is the relationship between the size of an object on a map and its size in real life. For example, a scale of 1:25,000 means that 1cm on the map is equal to 25,000cm, or 250m, in real life. So 4cm on the map is equal to 1km.


Analyse and compare a place, or places, using aerial photographs. atlases and maps.

Describe and explain the location, purpose and use of transport networks across the UK and other parts of the world.

Describe how the characteristic of a settlement changes as it gets bigger (settlement hierarchy).

Describe the relative location of cities, counties or geographical features in the UK in relation to other places or geographical features.

Identify and describe the similarities and differences in physical and human geography between continents.

Identify and explain ways that people can improve the production of products without compromising the needs of future

Identify elevated areas, depressions and river basins on a relief map.

Identify the location and explain the function of the Prime (or Greenwich) Meridian and different time zones (including day and night).

Name and locate the world’s biomes, climate zones and vegetation belts and explain their common characteristics.

Name, locate and describe major world cities.

Summarise geographical data to draw conclusions.

Use compass points, grid references and scale to interpret maps, including Ordnance Survey maps, with accuracy.