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Level: Junior, Middle School
Grades: 3-8 | Age: 8-14 | Written by: Amy Shapley
[Amy is a pre K-8 art educator at Notre Dame de Sion School of Kansas City. ]

Students will use social studies learning about Ancient Mesoamericans to create a piece of historical art. Students will use visual art as a form of communication.

"I do this lesson with the fifth grade social studies teacher. She helps guide the students into writing outlines from their studies of Ancient Mesoamerican cultures. We use the outlines to write our codices."
-Amy Shapley

What You Need:
What You Do:
  1. Students will bring in outlines on Ancient Mesoamerican life from social studies. Discuss books and how they give us information about our history. Present history of Codex books. Discuss use of symbols as a language. Practice making ancient glyphs on scratch paper.
  2. Cut two strips of equal length and width out of the NON seamed half of the paper bag. Crumple paper strips and un-crumple several times. Be careful when un-crumpling as to not rip the paper edges. Iron crumpled strips to give distressed leather look.
  3. Glue ends together to make one long strip. Allow to dry.
  4. Fan fold into four sections.
  5. Use a pencil and/or marker to write three sentences from the outline to tell the history of an Mesoamerica part of life (family, hunt, food, etc.)
  6. Decorate the book with Mesoamerican glyphs and designs in paint in the traditional Mesoamerican colors.

Recommended Books/Products:

Aztec, Inca & Maya
Fiona MacDonald, Mark Bergin
Captioned full-color photographs highlight a close-up look at three great ancient civilizations of the Western Hemisphere, discussing the remarkable artistic, scientific, and technical achievements of the Inca, Maya, and Aztec peoples.

How Would You Survive As an Aztec?
Here, general categories of historical anthropology are made specific: "What would you eat and drink?" "What would you wear?"

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