9 Ways to Explore the Indus Valley Civilization

September 22, 2017

The Indus Valley Civilization is an incredibly advanced early civilization, full of wonder and mysteries. Maybe it's because our knowledge of it is still so new or because there are still so many mysteries surrounding it, but the Indus Valley often doesn't get its fair shake when it comes to history books and activities. In fact, I haven't come across any high quality children's books for this period of history. Not to be deterred, I have come up with several activities you can do focusing on the urban planning and plumbing accomplishments of this remarkable civilization. 



1. Become an Urban Planner. One of the most impressive things about the Indus Valley was their urban planning, even by modern standards, their cities were impeccably designed. But somehow I don't think your kiddo has been sitting around thinking about urban planning, so s/he might now have an appreciation for what a great feat this planning was. This activity is designed to help your kiddo understand urban planning a little better.  

For this activity have your kiddo grab a blank piece of paper and start planning a city that includes the following items: 

  • City walls

  • A gate into the city

  • Fields outside the walls

  • Housing

  • Water wells

  • Craftsman workshops

  • A police station

  • A city hall

  • A market

  • Streets connecting all the parts of the city

Let your kiddo work for awhile trying to fit all these elements into their city, then have a conversation about how their city is designed. What things did they put in the center of their city? How far would people have to travel between their home and their fields/workshops? Are the streets straight and easy to navigate? 

You could follow up your discussion about your kiddo's city with some examples from the community you live in, such as new traffic or development plans, to demonstrate the timelessness of urban planning. 


2. Play SimCity. Another way to explore urban planning is by playing the classic SimCity or another urban planning style game. You could go super old school and play the original Sim games for free over at ClassicReload.com, or you could purchase a more recent version of SimCity on Steam

3. Build your own Indus Valley City. Break out the Legos and get building! Just like the Indus Valley used regularly sized bricks to build their buildings, your kiddo can try their hand at building a bathhouse or market square. Have a discussion with your kiddo about the benefits of Legos being regularly sized and how it would affect their building if some of their bricks were slightly (or very) different sizes. 


4. Create your own "mud" bricks to build a city with. For this activity, you'll need to buy a couple pounds of air dry clay. Before you begin, discuss with your child the best approach to creating regularly sized bricks. You could try shaping the bricks by hand, using a mold (like an ice cube tray), or using a knife or pizza cutter to cut out several bricks at once. Once your child decides on a method, begin creating bricks. Leave the clay out for several hours to harden, then let your child construct their own mud brick building. 


5. Ancient India STEM. StudentSavy has an Ancient India STEM challenge pack available on TeachersPayTeachers. This bundle includes an Indus Valley irrigation challenge and a Stupa building challenge. 

6. The history of toilets. Depending on your child, the gross history of toilets and poop may just be their favorite topic. Or you may want to skip this entirely. If you're not too grossed out, this YouTube video offers a rundown of the history of toilets and their importance to human health.


7. Marble Run Plumbing Challenge. For a less gross approach to learning about the history of toilets, you could try a stem challenge about plumbing. Of course you could try to do something with straws and water, but that will definitely lead to leaking and mess and what mom needs that in her life?? Instead of water, using a marble makes for a much more mom-friendly plumbing challenge. You could use cardboard tubes (i.e., empty toilet paper rolls), PVC pipes, or a toy marble run to create your plumbing system. Set a start point and end point and see if you kiddo can build the plumbing to connect the two. 

This is a fun and simple DIY marble run, if you'd like to make your own. 



8. Create a paper pipeline. You could also purchase this pre-made STEM challenge for making a pipeline using just regular paper and tape. 


I hope those activities give you some ideas for fun extensions of your reading on the Indus Valley Civilization.

 (And don't worry, if you were disappointed by the lack of books in this post, my next post about ancient India will include LOTS of awesome books!)

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