St Michael's CE Primary School Blog


In History, Y5 are learning about the Ancient Kingdom of Benin. The children will learn in depth about where the Benin Kingdom was located and how it came to thrive, what the people believed in and how they showed this in their artwork. The western attitudes towards African civilisations will be explored and comparisons made between their achievements, oral tales and artefacts to those in Europe at the same time.

The Literacy text this term – Children of the Benin Kingdom – links in well with what they are learning in History.

The National Curriculum requires pupils to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding
of British, local and world history. Pupils should be taught about a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history – such as Benin (West Africa) AD 900-1300

In around 900 CE the Edo people began clearing parts of the rainforests of West Africa to build their homes. Small settlements soon grew, which were ruled by kings called Ogisos (Kings of the Sky). After being governed by over 30 different Ogisos, the kingdom was then controlled by a new dynasty of rulers, called the Oba. The Obas led the Edo people to great wealth and power before their kingdom eventually fell under the colonial rule of the British Empire in the late 1800s.

At one time, people sacrificed leopards to the gods because they were the symbol of the Oba, so sacrificing them they believed, would keep the Kingdom safe. Many warriors wore necklaces of leopards’ teeth to keep them protected during battle. There were many animals associated with different gods.

  • Crocodiles were associated with Olokun, god of the water.
  • Snakes symbolised the power of Osun, the god of nature.
  • Eagles and mudfish also featured in the artwork.

The children created clay tiles showing some of the gods of the Benin people.

The children started off with shaping their lump of clay into a square or rectangle to create a tile
Crocodile – god of the water
Snake – god of nature
Eagle – Oba’s supernatural ability
Children of the Benin Kingdom : Dinah Orji, : 9781999336332 : Blackwell's
Literacy Text

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