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The ancient Mayan civilization disappeared with the collapse of their major cities, but the Mayans left behind temples, writings and a calendar that is still studied today. Ancient Mayans lived over an extensive area in Mesoamerica. They descended from even more ancient peoples and were eventually integrated into a different culture. Descendants of these mysterious people survive in Mexico today. Send your grade schoolers on a webquest to learn about the Mayans.
For this project-based learning task, students divided into groups of three or four will design a guided tour of Chichen Itza. They will write the tour guide speech and create an advertisement to ‘sell’ the tour. The tour should cover the history of the Mayans as well as their science and architecture.
The advertisement should Illustrate the artistic style of the Mayans while including tour highlights. The advertisement can be done on posterboard or on a computer. Interactive posters can be made using free online tools like Glogster EDU.
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Students should answer the questions listed below to become familiar with the Mayan culture in general and begin to understand some of the amazing advances the Mayans made during their 3,000-year existence. The resulting information will be useful to create the speech for the 'tour guide.' Specific websites for this Maya webquest are listed in the next section and can be distributed to the students as desired.
- What modern countries contain part of the ancient Mayan kingdom?
- When did the Mayan civilization begin?
- Name two sciences studied by the Mayans.
- How many calendar systems did the Mayans create? Name them.
- What was each calendar used for?
- How many symbols did Mayans use to write numbers?
- Why are there so few examples of Mayan writing in existence today?
- What number did the Mayans have that had not been used in any other number system up to that time? Why is this important?
- What types of celestial events could Mayans predict?
- What materials did the Mayans use to build the pyramids and temples?
- What were Mayan pyramids used for?
- Name two other structures built in the city of Chichen Itza.
- What types of tools did the Mayans use? What did they not use?
- What is bilateral symmetry? How does this relate to Mayan architecture?
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Suggested Websites and Keywords
The following websites contain information that students will find useful in answering the research questions for their Mayan webquest. Students can also search independently using the keyword of "Mayan" in combination with architecture, math, science, art and history if they prefer to do their own searches.
- DigitalMeesh.com, Ancient Maya
- KidsKonnect.com, Ancient Mayan Civilization
- FacStaff by Georgia Perimeter College, Mayan Civilization
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Students will be evaluated on each of the three parts of the project:
- How well they answered the research questions.
Score 1 - Beginner students will have short answers with few details.
Score 2 - Developing students will have more detailed answers for at least 10 percent of the questions.
Score 3 - Accomplished students will have detailed answers for at least half of the questions.
Score 4 - Advanced students will include many details for all of the questions.
- How long and detailed is the tour guide speech? Beginner students may write a one-page written report; advanced students may create a virtual tour with photos and many details on Mayan culture.
Score 1 - Beginner students will have a one page or less written speech with few details.
Score 2 - Developing students will have a two-page speech with more details.
Score 3 - Accomplished students will have at least two written pages with many details.
Score 4 - Advanced students will have illustrations as part of their tour presentation.
- How detailed and accurate is the advertisement? Beginner students may create a posterboard advertisement with few details and little color; advanced students may create a PowerPoint presentation with many details and highlights.
Score 1 - Beginner students will create a posterboard advertisement with few details and little color.
Score 2 - Developing students will create a posterboard advertisement with details and color.
Score 3 - Accomplished students will create an advertisement with highlights and photos.
Score 4 - Advanced students will create a 'virtual tour' with the highlights of the guided tour included.
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This webquest has introduced students to only a small portion of these mysterious people. Students interested in learning more may want to visit a local museum or extend their research into the religion of the Mayans.