Ancient China for Kids
Shang kings, especially, believed in the power of their ancestors. The Shang wanted to ask their ancestors questions. They wanted answers to their questions. They used oracle bones (sometimes called dragon bones) to accomplish this.
First, the king would ask a question: "Will the weather be sunny tomorrow?" The priest carved the king's question on an oracle bone, which was just a turtle or other animal bone. (It was not a human bone.) Then, the priest heated a thin pin made of bronze. Once heated, the pin was held against the bone. The heat caused a series of small cracks to appear on the surface of the bone. Those cracks formed a pattern of sorts. Then a special oracle reader, usually a woman, would "read" the cracks, and provide the king with an answer to his question.
Archaeologists have found thousands and thousands of oracle bones, each with a question carved on them. The questions on these oracle bones have told archaeologists a great deal about daily life during the Shang Dynasty. The thing is, the questions did not actually say "Will it be sunny tomorrow?" What the question actually said was something like this: "If I sacrifice 8 men or 3 oxen, will it be sunny tomorrow?"
A great many people and animals were sacrificed during Shang times so that Shang kings and queens could ask their ancestors questions. The people they sacrificed might be slaves, or people who were sick or deformed, or people captured in war, or someone who upset a noble, or a noble who upset the king. No one was safe. The only thing that was important to the Shang kings and queens was getting an answer to their question.
Explore Ancient China
(Very Early China)
Ancient Chinese Gods & Goddesses
Ancient China Occupations, Professions
The invention and importance of tea
Superstitions in Ancient China
Taoism - An Ancient Philosophy
Comparison of Beliefs - Taoism, Confucianism, Legalism
The 3 Teachings - Confucius, Taoism, Buddhism
Myth: Why Chinese dragons have five toes
Myth: Nian, the Horrible Monster
Ancient Story: Wang the Peddler
Ancient Story: The True Story of Mulan
Ancient Story: The Warrior Well
Legend: The Story of Shadow Puppets
Medicine, Acupuncture, Yin Yang
Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age (for kids)
Achievements & Ancient Inventions
Take the Quiz, interactive with answers
Interactive Games about Ancient China for Kids
Ancient China Lesson Plans, Classroom Activities, Projects
What is the difference between a proverb and a fable? (1-2 class periods)
The Three Doctrines & Legalism
Debates on Censorship (2-3 class periods)
The Silk Road Game (1-2 class periods)
Several Lesson Ideas for Ancient China
Free Use PowerPoints about Ancient China for Kids and Teachers
Museum of the Ancients - Investigate Real Life Artifacts