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McREL Standards Activity

Let’s Go Maya!

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will understand various significant features of early Mayan civilization.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
World History
 Standard 17.Understands the rise of centers of civilization in Mesoamerica and Andean South America in the 1st millennium CE
   Level II [Grade 5-6]
   Benchmark 1. Understands the significant features of Mayan civilization (e.g., locations of Mayan city-states, road systems, and sea routes in Mesoamerica and the influence of the environment on these developments; the role and status of elite women and men in Mayan society as indicated by their portrayal in Mayan monumental architecture; the importance of religion in Mayan society; the structure and purpose of Mayan pyramids; ceremonial games among the Mayans)
Student Product:A Mayan travel guide
Material & Resources:Paper, pen, colored pencils (optional)
Teacher's Note:Students should have received prior instruction about different aspects of early Mayan civilization.
As part of a study of early Mayan civilization, assign students the task of creating an ancient Mayan travel guide. Imagine that they could travel back in time to the peak of Mayan civiliation. While there, they should document their travels in a travel guide. Explain to students that travel guides, such as the famous Let?s Go! books, contain useful instructions for those wishing to travel to a different city or country. What would their ancient travel guide look like? What kind of information would it contain? Modern travel guides are usually divided into distinct headings, contain succinct information in each section, and occasionally contain pictures of interesting sights. Students may want to divide their travel guide into the following sections: How to get around Places to go and see Weather Social distinctions Men and women Art and architecture Religious beliefs and ceremonies Games and other forms of entertainment After each heading, students should fill in pertinent information that would be useful for a foreigner to know who would have wished to visit a Mayan city. Students should also include 1-2 pictures in their travel guide to inform travelers as to what to expect from the art and architecture of the Mayans. Once students have completed their ancient travel guides, have students show portions of their guides to the class and explain what they have learned about the significant features of Mayan civilization. Through class discussion, emphasize the characteristics of the Maya led to their success as a civiliation, including the locations of Mayan city-states, road systems, and sea routes; the social structure of Mayan society; their spiritual belief system; and the role of science and astronomy in their lives.