Ancient Chinese Dynasties Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to learn about China's Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties. They will then work in groups to create a cultural expo featuring these dynasties.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties of China
  • Discuss the importance of dynasties in Chinese history


120-180 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.


Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.


  • Copies of the quiz, one for each student
  • Access to the internet and a printer


  • Begin class by talking about ancient China and dynasties.
    • What is a dynasty? What defines the start and end of a dynasty? How do you think people justify overthrowing a dynasty and starting a new one? What can we learn about a culture from the fact that they organize their history in terms of dynasties?
  • Begin the video lesson Innovations of the Sui, Tang & Song Dynasties of China. Pause the video at 2:09 and discuss this information as a class.
    • Why do you think China lost its unity after the fall of the Han Dynasty? What did it take for the Sui to restore this unity? How did they reestablish control of China?
    • What was life like in the Sui Dynasty? In what ways were they successful? In what ways were they not? Why did the Sui Dynasty come to an end?
  • Resume the video, and pause at 4:18 to discuss this information.
    • Why would the Tang seek to emulate the Han? What did they hope to accomplish by doing this? What message were they trying to send? Why didn't they try to emulate the Sui?
    • What was life like under the Tang Dynasty? How did Chinese civilization change in this time period? How did technology play into this change?
  • Resume and complete the video. Discuss this information as a class.
    • Why do you think China lost its unity once again after the fall of the Tang? What does it tell us about Chinese history that a unified state was difficult to maintain? Did ancient Chinese people always necessarily see themselves as Chinese, or as the same kind of Chinese?
    • What was the Song Dynasty like? How did Chinese civilization change in this time period? If the Tang focused on technology, then what motivated change and growth in the Song Dynasty?
    • How did the Song Dynasty end? How was this different from the ways that previous dynasties had ended? How do you think the Mongol invasion impacted China?
  • You may test student understanding with the quiz.

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