Sumerian history through story-telling and expressive movement

Lesson Plan

By Paul Flux, published 11th January 2011

The Sumerian mystery lesson is based on a story about what people found in one of the royal tombs of Ur dating from about 4000 years ago. (This was in ancient Mesopotamia, near what we now call the Persian Gulf.)

(These resources are attached below)

The story is full of the magic and mystery of the past, old gods and burial ceremonies, belief in an afterlife, and mystifying objects. The aim was to develop children's understanding of the beliefs and behaviour of the people involved.
Download the story and the teachers' notes above.

Teaching methods used were storytelling and expressive movement. Both methods offer ways of teaching history with the human element strongly present.

The Sumerian mystery, lasting three lessons, was taught to a combined class of children aged 9-11 in a small rural primary school. Here are some children's comments:

  • "I learnt a lot about their religion; they thought their gods were really special."
  • "They must have wanted to die with the queen. I am not sure how I would have felt if that was me. I suppose it must have helped if you really believed you were going to live forever."
  • "I liked the way we were all working together. When I was not sure what to do I looked around and got loads of ideas."


Teaching methods


Expressive movement and freeze frames

More world study lessons

Attached files: