This lesson is intended to be a one-day activity in which students get to play archaeologist and decipher artifacts from the Indus River Valley, or Harappan culture. It's interesting and it gets them out of their seats for a while, which they always appreciate.
Here are the steps:
1. It's best if you have already introduced the concept of the river valley civilizations to them (maybe you've already taught Mesopotamia and Egypt, for example).
2. I print out in color and laminate all of the "artifact" handouts and post them up around the room in the morning. You make your classroom into a "museum" of Indus River valley artifacts.
3. At the beginning of class, explain that while the Indus River valley people had a written language, we have not yet been able to decipher it. We haven't found India's version of the "Rosetta Stone."
4. Today, you are going to be archaeologists and study different artifacts from the Indus River valley people, and try to figure out what we can learn about their society and culture simply by looking at artifacts instead of written documents.
5. Divide the students into small groups and have them rotate around the room and answer the questions on their handout for each artifact. It's really fun for them to try to figure out what exactly the structure in Artifact #3 is (it's a toilet), or to figure out the purpose of the weights in Artifact #5 (used for trading). After they have rotated through the whole museum and answered all of the questions, have a class discussion about their answers and collect the handouts.