A Thematic Learning Showcase - Shang Dynasty Theme

A Thematic Learning Showcase - Shang Dynasty Theme

This week, LEH International School Foshan's Prep School gave a Teachers Talk session focusing on the school's Thematic British Curriculum, its approach, and its practical implementation. 

Hosted by Ms Bateman, Head of Prep, Ms Clarke and Mr Lewis, two classroom teachers, the session went beyond a simple presentation; it actively engaged parents, resulting in an informative and interactive experience.


Thematic Approach

The thematic approach is a way of teaching and learning, whereby many areas of the curriculum are connected and integrated within a theme. It helps learners see meaningful connections across disciplines or learning areas. Click here to learn more about it and its benefits. 

During the event, our teachers not only explained the thematic approach but also involved parents in how Prep students explore a historical theme through the context of the Shang Dynasty, delving into learning engagements and using resources that mirror their children’s learning experiences.  These tasks included organising a historical timeline, crafting a map of the Shang Empire, discussing the societal power structure, and even designing 'dragon bones'. Parents had the unique opportunity to step into their children's shoes, and we were pleased to witness their active participation in group activities and discussions. We hope this allowed the parents to gain valuable insights into their children's educational journey and how LEH Foshan nurtures well-rounded young students.

For parents who were unable to attend the event or prospective parents eager to learn more about our thematic approach and its practical application, we invite you to read this article. It offers a comprehensive illustration of our approach, using the 'Shang Dynasty' theme as an example.


The Shang Dynasty History

The Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BC – 1046 BC) might seem like ancient history to our young students. Young children sometimes struggle to grasp the concept of history. During our lessons, students are tasked with organising historical timelines and arranging various ancient civiliszations in chronological order. Understanding the order and timeline of ancient civilisations is essential for children as it provides them with a broader historical context. It fosters a deeper understanding of historical causality, and how the achievements of the Shang Dynasty have influenced subsequent civilisations, making the thematic unit more comprehensive and enriching.



In geography lesson, students are assigned the task of marking out the Shang Dynasty on a map and annotating it with details about the cities, neighbouring countries, as well as key rivers and mountains.

By pinpointing the Shang Dynasty's location, students can better comprehend the geographic factors that influenced the dynasty's development, such as its proximity to the Yellow River and the natural resources available in the region. This hands-on exercise enhances their appreciation for the interplay between geography, culture, and history, making the Shang Dynasty thematic unit a multidimensional and immersive learning experience.


Social Studies

Next, students delve into the societal power structure of the Shang Dynasty. They closely examine the hierarchy table and explore the varying sizes of its different sections. This knowledge helps students appreciate the complexities of human civilisations and how different roles and responsibilities are assigned to individuals based on their status. It also allows for discussions on equity, justice, and the consequences of hierarchical systems, which are some of the important topics covered in PSHE.

Dragon Bones

Students explored the discovery, historical significance, and use of dragon bones, particularly in pyromancy. They then took a hands-on approach, designing and crafting their own dragon bones.

This engagement integrates multiple subjects. Children engage in art and Design & Technology while also delving into history and language. They learn about the Oracle bone script and its historical context, connecting various disciplines and demonstrating the benefits of a thematic curriculum. Crafting their own oracle bones allows children to express themselves creatively. They can choose inscriptions and designs that resonate with them, making the activity more personal and enjoyable.

Literacy Links

Upon completing the learning activities, students engage in a comprehensive review of their newfound knowledge and read a class text The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, which has links to both Chinese culture and history, after which they embark on crafting reports and stories about the Shang Dynasty.

These include newspaper reports, such as 'Discovery of Dragon Bones,' non-chronological reports, and instructional texts like 'How to Defend a Shang Settlement.' This exercise not only encourages students to enhance their comprehension and organisational skills but also fosters creative writing abilities.

Class Debate

Should the Shang Peasants rebel against the King?

Fostering critical thinking is a fundamental goal for our students. And children are allowed to have a say. To wrap up the theme, they participate in a debate, in democratic way, about whether they should overthrow the King if they were the peasants. This experience not only enhances their capacity for critical analysis but also boosts their confidence in public speaking.

By using the 'Shang Dynasty' as an illustrative example, our goal is to provide you with valuable insights into our thematic approach and how we immerse children in dynamic interdisciplinary learning experiences that involve hands-on activities.
In Prep School, throughout the educational journey, we use many diverse themes that serve as the connecting threads that weave various subjects together in meaningful and purposeful ways. This integration of subjects contributes to a holistic and interactive learning experience, ensuring that our students not only gain knowledge but also develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of different fields of study.