Ancient Civilizations of Latin America Lesson Plan: Inca, Maya, and Aztec Civilizations

Submitted by: Greg Kocourek

Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan for grade 6 through 12, students use BrainPOP resources to learn and synthesize information about the ancient civilizations of Latin America. They will create a three circle Venn diagram to compare and contrast the Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations. Students will also design a “graffiti board” on which they write messages and draw pictures to illustrate their understanding.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Synthesize information about the ancient civilizations of Latin America
  2. Create a three circle Venn diagram in which students compare and contrast these three civilizations using similarities and differences
  3. Create a "graffiti board" on which they will write messages and draw pictures that illustrate their understanding

Materials:

  • Access to BrainPOP
  • Photocopies of BrainPOP Activity Pages and FYIs related to each movie
  • Projector
  • Wii remote (or SRS)
  • Smartboard/interactive whiteboard/projector
  • Yarn
  • Scissors

Vocabulary:

Tlachtli; phonetic; human sacrifice; Quechua; llama

Preparation:

This lesson can be used to launch the study of Latin American history and culture and provide students with a background for understanding contemporary issues in Latin America.

The BrainPOP Activity Pages and FYIs can be used before, during, and after each movie for note-taking and assessment. You may wish to plan out how these will be incorporated for whole class, partner, or independent readings and homework assignments.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Begin by viewing the BrainPOP movie Inca Civilization.
  2. Share simple phrases in Quechua using a website with native language speakers.
  3. Give each student a small amount of yarn and practice how Inca messengers recorded the information they had to transfer using a code they created and tying ropes together in a specific pattern.
  4. Have students create their own pattern in groups and write messages to each other.
  5. Afterward or in a follow-up lesson, show the BrainPOP movie Maya Civilization and the Aztec Civilization movie. Have students take the corresponding quiz and explore the related features.
  6. After viewing all three movie, have students create a Venn diagram in which they compare and contrast the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations.
  7. As you continue with your Latin American cultures unit, have students begin creating a "graffiti board" on which they draw pictures and write phrases important to their understanding of thee ancient cultures. Student may write on the board (or text in answers via SRS) using Notebook software, a computer connected to a projection device, an interactive whiteboard created using Bluetooth technology, and.or a Wii remote (or SRS).
  8. This communal graffiti board can serve as a culminating project that may be saved and uploaded to the class webpage to be viewed by students and parents alike.

Extension Activity:

Note: if you don't have access to an interactive whiteboard or SRS, you can achieve a similar graffiti board effect using sticky post-it notes and having students post their responses on chart paper.