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The Mayans and the Aztecs

Interactive History School Visits, Workshops and Learning Activities

Let us bring the WOW factor into your classrooms with our fun and informative Mayan and Aztec workshops. These are fascinating cultures from Central America that existed for hundreds of years until the conquest of the New World by the Spanish invaders.
We enjoy working with primary and secondary schools across Sussex, Surrey and Kent on their Key Stage 1, KS2 and KS3 history curriculum topics.

The Mayan and Aztec Ages

These highly advanced cultures flourished in Central America from before the time of Jesus Christ right up to the conquests of their lands by the Spanish Conquistadors. For societies with only limited metal working skills they designed fantastic cities supported and built by a thriving population, with beautiful and elaborate stone temples.
An interesting fact - many historians believe that the Mayans were the first to invent the concept of zero in mathematics.

Artefacts Created for our Workshops

For our Mayan and Aztec school workshops we have researched and recreated the following artefacts for use during your day:

  • Full set of Mayan or Aztec warrior armour as would have been worn by a rich noble, fighting on a battle field
  • The weapons he would have carried made of wood with flint and obsidian cutting blades that produce some of the sharpest edges in existence
  • As a complete contrast, the weapons and armour made of steel and iron that would have been worn and used by the Conquistadors to conquer the Mayans and Aztecs
  • Artefacts from these cultures including beautiful carved wooden masks, pottery, jewellery and some of the everyday tools that would have been used
  • The fur-on skins of the wild and domesticated animals of the region
  • Original costumes and clothing worn by modern Mayan children
  • Full regalia of a Mayan/Aztec priestess
  • A saddle corn quern for grinding maize in to flour
  • Real and replica foods from the region

Activities Agenda

During a Mayan/Aztec workshop your class will:

  • Roll out our very long timeline tape to compare our history in Europe with that of The Americas and where the Mayan/Aztecs fit in, using artefacts to illustrate different events on the timeline
  • See teachers dressed as a noble Mayan/Aztec warrior in full armour and his enemy, a Spanish Conquistador
  • Go outside for a friction fire lighting demonstration and witness how high and far a Mayan/Aztec-style bow can shoot
  • Look at and handle all the different armour and weapons of both the Mayan/Aztec and Conquistador
  • Learn about the cultures of the Mayans/Aztecs through looking at and handling the many artefacts that Hands on History have obtained
  • Everyone can have a turn on the saddle corn quern to get a feel for what hard work it is to mill flour.
  • Enjoy looking at our foods from the Americas and Europe quiz where students will explore our huge range of prop foods and plants and will work out which came from The Americas and which from Europe. Did you know that we wouldn't be able to enjoy a bar of chocolate or a packet of crisps if Christopher Columbus had not discovered The Americas? Another fact, guinea pig is still considered a delicacy on the Mayan menu!
  • Learn about Mayan maths. Then using stones, sticks and shells, a fun Mayan maths lesson
  • Smell and examine some of the foods that the Mayans/Aztecs still eat today. Did you know that cactus leaf is very tasty?
  • The Mayan/Aztec Gods Quiz. Student look at the different range of animal skins that represent the different gods. Using their alphabet translation sheets they will give each skin its name in English and Mayan/Aztec script
  • Play the Mayan ball game. In Mayan/Aztec times the loosing team had their heads chopped off. Don't worry, we don't go that far!
  • See the teacher being dressed as the Priestess then everyone joins her in the Jaguar Dance learning simple steps, drumming and chanting
  • See two students being dressed up as modern Mayan children

History Resource Box with Lesson Plans

To enable you to make the most of our visit you can collect a History Resource Box (with lesson plans) filled with interesting items from your chosen time period, absolutely free. This complimentary box will be available for collection from our base in East Sussex and you can have it for a month either before or after our workshop.