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Study the incredible Maya* civilisation

Julie St Clair Hoare By Julie St Clair Hoare

Discover where and when the Maya built their magnificent civilisation as your upper key stage 2 children develop a range of skills across the curriculum. Investigate how the Maya lived, their culture and their legacy.

Learn about all aspects of the Maya

This topic explores the history and lives of the Maya. After a block that sets the Maya in a wider historical context, an introductory block outlines of what we know about when and where the Maya lived and how we know about them.

*Maya or Mayan? 'Maya' describes the indigenous peoples of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and southeastern Mexico. You may see 'Mayan' used to describe the people, their culture and history, but it is more accurate to reserve 'Mayan' for discussing the languages of the Maya.

The extraordinary Maya civilisation created beautiful writing using logograms and hieroglyphs. Find out how the writing was used and use the glyphs to write and draw words including your own name. Discover the Copan stairway and make a class hieroglyph stairway. Design a class glyph. Marvel at Maya codices and design, paint and make a Maya codex on ‘tree bark’. Write like a Maya.

Discover the fascinatingly inventive maths and calendar systems of the Maya. Learn about Maya numerals and the Dresden Codex, using sticks, stones and shells to represent numbers. Compare the Maya calendar to our own. Learn about the Long Count and Tzolkin days. Draw birth month symbols and form them out of clay. Do maths with the Maya.

Study the impressive buildings of this early civilisation and put together a Maya city. Learn the rules of and play the ball game Pok-ta-Pok. Discover the palaces of the Maya kings as well as the houses of the common people. Construct a temple-pyramid out of clay for your Maya city. Invite guests to visit your Maya city and entertain them with hot chocolate and tortillas. Explore Maya cities.

Find out about the religion and legends of the Maya. Explore the famous stories of the Hero Twins and the Lords of the Underworld using role-play and small world models. Use a variety of software on a range of digital devices to create a podcast of the Maya creation myth, and make videos of class Maya celebrations to upload to the class website. Celebrate with the Maya.

Learn about the family-orientated society of the Maya community. Find out about the childhood of the Maya. Weave simple and elaborate mats. Make a Maya instrument. Research Maya clothing, headdresses and hairstyles. Bring the topic into the present by learning about the modern culture and struggles of the Maya people. Organise a Maya celebration to raise money for the modern Maya, entertaining guests with music and food and informing them about all you have found out in this block. Explore the everyday life of the Maya.

There are also blocks on Maya trade, Maya technology and Maya farming, making for a whole term's worth of engaging and varied content for your class.

A Rich and Varied Cross-curricular Topic

The range and scope of this fascinating topic is impressive. The depth of the planning materials and resources, produced under expert guidance from a Maya specialist, will give you confidence while teaching this content and working on objectives in the English, maths, music, art, design and technology and computing curricula.