Ancient China & the Indus River Valley

A Complete Unit Plan for World History in Middle School or High School

The third unit in my World History Curriculum  covers the early civilizations that developed around Eastern River Valleys, specifically those in Ancient China and the Indus River Valley.

This unit can also be combined with the previous one on Western River Valley civilizations or broken apart like this, so as to not overwhelm students with too much in one unit.

You can get every lesson plan and resource for the unit here, or join Students of History to immediately access every lesson online.


The unit begins with a look at the civilizations that developed in the Indus River Valley in India. A PowerPoint and guided notes set (with Google Slides and “flipped classroom” video options) covers the main ideas of what we know about these people. Next, students engage in a mapping the Indian subcontinent activity before working on vocabulary or some of their unit guide packet.

 The next lesson focuses on the fascinating Harappan Civilization and mysteries that still surround what happened to it. After going through the PowerPoint and notes (or Google Slides or video), students work together in small groups on a Harappan civilization theories activity that will help them think like historians and archeologists.

Students begin learning about religion in these ancient civilizations in the next lesson.  A PowerPoint and guided notes introduce students to Hinduism and the Caste system on the Indian subcontinent. Video clips are available as well as online sources that students can use before they begin a digital notebook or paper/hands-on notebook activity on the caste system.

  Next, students move to learn about Ancient China and the Yellow River. Another PowerPoint (with guided notes/Google/Video) can be used to start things off before students work on a mapping activity or  reading packet.

 The next lesson in the unit focuses on culture in Ancient China, including religion and Chinese philosophies. Several video clips are available to use as well as interactive notebook activities on oracle bones and the Dynastic Cycle. Students then review primary sources, including the Analects of Confucius or an analysis of The Ode of Mulan.

A printable and Google Doc unit packet plus digital notebook set can be used throughout the unit for remediation or extension activities. 

The unit finishes out with several review games and activities followed several options for your test, including ones for ALL River Valley Civilizations or just these Eastern ones. A Google Forms version is also available for easy grading.

You can use the links above to download any resource individually and see reviews from teachers who've used them. The entire unit can be downloaded here and immediately saved to your desktop. You can also access the lessons and resources through a subscription, which grants you access to the ENTIRE World History curriculum.

If you’re unsure which option might be best, you can read about the differences between subscriptions and TpT here.

World History Units