September 26, 2012

Native Americans Day 2: Mesoamerica: Maya

Mesoamerica: Maya
1. Review: We talked about the Taino tribe in the Circum-Caribbean region last time. Today we will move to the Mesoamerica region (show on regional map) and learn about the Maya tribe.
2. Map Skills: Compare the regional map to the globe or map today and see what countries or states are in the Mesoamerica region.
3. Discuss: Fill out the Tribes Chart after reading each section. Have the child listen closely to choose what word to put on the chart. Bold type words are good suggestions.
  • Habitat: The ancient Maya lived in Mesoamerica. Mesoamerica was the land that stretched between the United States of America and South America.
  • Homes: The basic Maya homes were hay huts which housed most of the Mayan population. The walls were made of mud or stone and were covered with wooden poles. The roof was a two sided hay form. The Mayas were master builders. They did not use metal. Their tools were made of stone, wood, and shell. Without metal tools, they built huge cities with strong buildings and pyramids that were 200 feet high. The Mayas built many cities. Every Mayan city had huge pyarmids, temples, at least one ball court, a central marketplace, a palace for the city ruler and large plaza where people could gather. In each city was a center of learning and religion for the people who lived nearby. Cities were connected with extremely well built roads that run for miles through the jungle and swamps.
  • Dress: The Mayan clothing worn by men were things called loincloths. Women wore long dresses going to their ankles. The men and women wore many different kinds of jewelry piercing their ears, lips, tongues, and noses at young ages.
  • Food: Most of the Mayan people were farmers. The main staple of their diet was corn also known as maize. Other things that they grew were beans, squash, avocado pear, sweet potato, guava, chili peppers, cocoa beans, vanilla beans, papaya and tomatoes. They would also eat fruits from trees. In addition to farming the Mayans raised turkeys and ducks for food. They also used the feathers from the turkeys and ducks for clothes. The Mayans raised bees to make honey. In the wild they hunted deer, rabbits, boar, armadillos and they fished.
4. Read: The Ancient Maya by Jackie Maloy (skip pages 27-29)
5. Comprehension questions:
  • What region did the Maya live in? Mesoamerica
  • What kind of homes did the Maya build? Hay huts
  • What kind of clothes did the Maya wear? Loincloths, long dresses and jewelry
  • How did the Maya get their food? Hunted and farmed
Maya Pyramid
Discuss: The Mayans were masters of architecture and mathematics, creating lasting monuments of skill and design, reaching toward the heavens from the Central American rainforest floor. Mayan temples have been an example of art and civilization, carefully constructed from native limestone, layer upon layer and block by hand-cut block. 


  • Knife (that will cut Styrofoam)
  • Newspaper
  • Elmers Glue
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Play sand
  • Photo of temple (reference)
  • Cardboard box (at least 2.5 by 2.5 feet)
  • Dowel (long enough to extend through all the layers of your Styrofoam pyramid)
  • About 209 square feet 1- to 2-inch-thick Styrofoam
1.  Start by cutting a 12-inch square to serve as the bottom level of the pyramid.  Cut the next square two inches shorter (10x10 in.)  Cut more layers in the same way, 8x8, 6x6, 4x4, and 2x2.
2.  Once all the pyramid levels are cut, assemble the pyramid started with the bottom.  Stack the layers from largest on the bottom to the smallest on the top.  Leave an even inch border around the layers as they rise.
Once you reach the next to top layer, poke the dowel through the center of the pyramid, leaving about 1 to 1.5 inches exposed.  Center the top layer on the pyramid, inserting the dowel into the bottom so the entire pyramid stays together.
3.  Mix the paper mache paste.
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup flour
1/4 cups white Elmer's glue
4.  Cut strips of newspaper. Dip the strips quickly into the paste and then layer onto the pyramid, starting from the bottom up. Make certain to cover the entire exterior; there should be no foam showing once you are done.
5.  While the pyramid dries, cut your cardboard box open, leaving at least a 1.5-by 1.5-foot square to serve as the "ground" under your pyramid.
6.  After the pyramid has dried, cut four 2 by 10-inch sections. You will use these strips to create stair ramps for your pyramid. Using craft glue, adhere the strips to the middle of each side, starting at the bottom and working your way up. The ramps should rise similarly up the side of your pyramid as the original limestone Mayan temple.   
7. Cover the ramps with paper mache. Keep the pyramid in a dry, well ventilated area unitll it is completely dry.
8.  Mix the craft paint and play sand to create a thick mixture and paint the entire structure and ramp.  you can give a more textured look to the pyramid by mixing multiple colors of paint and sand and layering the finished pyarmid.
The boys had fun playing with their Playmobil pirates and the pyramid.
Mayan Number System
Discuss: The Mayans had a number system consisting of shells, dots, and lines. You could write up to nineteen with just these symbols. The Maya were one of the only ancient civilizations to understand the concept of zero. This allowed them to write very large numbers.
Would mean 0
Would mean 1
Would mean 5
Application: Use the numbers below to answer the following questions...
  1. How old are you?
  2. 6+6=
  3. 12-9=
  4. 10+9=
  5. 5-4=
  6. 8+8=
  7. 11-7=
  8. 8+5=
  9. 18-9=
  10. 3+2=
  11. 8-3=
  12. 14-14=
Maya Numbers 0-19
The numbers from 20 on are the same symbols but they'd be 20 times what they really represent just add 0 after it. Using this system you can write up to 399.

Maya Color Poem
Discuss: The Maya used bright colors to decorate their pottery.  We used pages 38-39 in Native Americans : Primary Thematic Unit by Leigh Severson to make our color poem.
First we chose a color (green) of chalk, then we colored the pot with different shades of green by coloring soft and hard.
We tried to blend some areas with tissue.  
We cut it out and glued it to the top part of a construction paper.  
We wrote a poem to glue on the bottom part of the paper.


Anonymous said...

Aww that is really good!

SJK said...

Thank you for this brilliant idea. We made this for the ancient civilization project.