Some of the ancient civilizations that we study in Classical Conversations have oodles and oodles of material available for reading and learning (hello Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, I’m talking to you!)…and some of them…well some of them just don’t. The Indus River Valley Civilization is a little thin, especially when it comes to interesting, accurate books for children. But have no fear! I have spent the last three months compiling a list of my favorites. And I’m happy to report that every book and online game on this list (and most movies) have been personally purchased/downloaded and reviewed by my family. I’m not gonna lie…we inadvertently bought some junk. But we won’t let you make the same mistake. Here’s what’s worth making part of your homeschooling day:
“Excavating the Past: The Indus Valley” gives an eye-witness view of the great cities that made up the Indus River Valley Civilization. The entire book focuses on what can be learned about this civilization through archaeology and how that information is pieced together using artifacts from the past. I enjoyed the perspective of the book and there is a helpful glossary in the back. There are two things to be aware of: 1. The dates in the book are all given in BCE and CE. 2. There is a timeline at the back of the book that places ancient civilizations in chronological order relative to one another (which is cool), but it also lists the “development of early hominids” as occurring “around 2 millions years BCE.” This timeline segment is not relevant to the rest of the text and is easily skipped.
This next title includes a lot of information that isn’t in the first book. It begins with a little bit of background on the river itself and the geography it creates. It then discusses both of the major civilizations that inhabited the region: the Harappans and the Aryans. It also gives an overview of the major religions, beliefs, arts, and culture that developed. I would say that this book is the “driest” of the three, but it gives a great overview of the civilizations that inhabited the Indus River Valley and it’s a good value for the money.
This last book was the most interesting to my nine-year-old daughter because it focuses on how people lived in the ancient civilization. It talks about what the houses were like, clothes, food, family life, etc. It also has bubbles on several pages that ask, “How Do We Know?” and answers by describing the archaeological processes involved in excavating and finding meaning in ancient ruins.
CLICK HERE to Add “Daily Life in the Indus Valley Civilization” to Your Amazon Wish List
When I was a kid, my mom pulled me out of school in the 6th grade (after much begging from me) and agreed to teach me at home. We went to a homeschool curriculum convention together and one of the first items she bought was the series from David Macaulay that included “Pyramid”, “Cathedral”, and “Castle”. I loved the books and the movies so much that I read and watched them over and over again. They were among the very few things that I kept from my childhood (through cramped early adult apartments and tiny storage units). When I learned that Macaulay wrote another book that uses a fictional excavation from the year 4022 to illustrate how archaeologists piece together information about an unknown society from clues in the ruins, I knew that I had to have it. This is our read aloud for this section of the CC timeline and I can’t wait to share the funny story of how archaeologist Howard Carson excavates the mysterious chamber behind the “DO NOT DISTURB SIGN” in the ancient kingdom of USA.
Although this book can be read anytime during your study of ancient history, it is especially apropos for the Indus River Valley Civilization. This civilization had a written language that has never been deciphered and an incredible city (Mohenjo-Daro) that was mysteriously abandoned… seemingly at the height of its success. Everything we have learned of this civilization has come through piecing together artifacts and other physical clues…much as Howard Carson must in the book…often in humorously inaccurate ways.
I have only watched excerpts of “The Indus Valley Civilization: The Masters of the River.” I intend to watch the entire movie with my kids, but we haven’t quite gotten to it yet. From what I have watched, it looks like a solid documentary with no objections. Part of the narration is in French, but YouTube has an auto-translate feature that works really well. You simply click on the CC symbol on the bottom right of the screen to turn on closed captioning. Then you click on the little gear wheel next to it and select “English (auto-generated)” from the drop-down menu. You can use it for the French parts and then turn it off when you don’t need it.
Another great option is the “Kids’ Animated History with Pipo” series on Amazon Prime. My daughter loves this show. They have episodes on all the major ancient civilzations including the Indus Valley. The show is free with an Amazon Prime subscription.
CLICK HERE to Watch “Kids’ Animated History with Pipo” Free with Amazon Prime
A word on Amazon Prime. We purchased an Amazon Prime subscription five years ago and we renew every year because we save enough on shipping alone to make everything else “gravy” so to speak. Amazon Prime members receive free 2-day shipping on nearly everything and that saves us a fortune on homeschool books and supplies. We’ve also found that Prime offers a large variety of educational films and documentaries.
If you are interested in trying a Prime membership, you can get a free 30 day trial here:
Online Games and Resources
BBC has a delightful little game where students accompany Professor Indus on his journey to the ruined city of Mohenjo-Daro. The game is more adventure/exploration than traditional video game as there is no real winning or losing. Kids who enjoy exploring new online worlds will get a kick out of this and the game is chock full of great information on the Indus River Valley Civilization. You might want to point out to your youngsters that the game is created from the point of view of students in the UK and references the UK when making geographical comparisons.
CLICK HERE to Play the Professor Indus Game on the BBC Website
If you haven’t discovered Mr. Donn’s History for Kids website, you need to. He presents great summaries for each of the ancient civilizations and links to games and videos and lots of other fun things. Here is the link to Mr. Donn’s page on the Indus Valley Civilization:
I hope your family is having as much fun working through the ancient history timeline events as we are. Stay tuned for my next post where I will detail the books and games we are using to enrich our study of Cycle 1 – Week 3.