The Mayan Empire

Grade Levels: 3 - 6


  • Students will use vocabulary related to the Mayan empire.
  • Students will learn about the arts, inventions, daily life, and religious beliefs of the Maya.
  • Students will appreciate why the Maya are considered among the most advanced of all ancient civilizations.



  1. Introduce key vocabulary: cenote, codex, excavate, hieroglyphs, jade, motif, stele.

  2. Have students work individually or with partners to answer the following questions as they explore Mayan Kids.

    1. People, Places, and Beliefs
      Go to the Maya Kids website (http://www.mayankids.com/mkintro.htm) and click on the "people," "places," and "beliefs" links at the top of the screen to read about the daily life of the ancient Maya. On a separate piece of paper, create a three-column chart and make notes about each of these topics.

    2. Advanced Civilization
      The following quotation is found on the site: "The Maya were the most advanced of all ancient Mesoamerican cultures." Explain what this statement means. Support your explanation with facts from the website.

  3. Set aside time for students to share and discuss the information they gathered.


Use a rubric to assess students' understanding of the ancient Mayan Empire.

Extension Activities

  • Choose from a large collection of cross-curricular activities for all grade levels.
  • Have groups of students compose fables including one or more of the Mayan god characters. Encourage them to illustrate their fables, then display them in your class for others to enjoy.

Standards Correlations

National Social Studies Standards

Students develop an understanding of:

  • how reading about and reconstructing the past allows them to develop historical perspective.
  • how human beings create, learn, apply, modify, and adapt to their cultures.
  • how each cultural system is unique.
  • spatial terms and posses knowledge of places and regions, physical systems, and interactions of environment and society.

National Educational Technology Standards


  • practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
  • use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.

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