The Ancient civilization of the Maya flourished in Central America for around 3,000 years. They were an advanced civilization, building astonishing stone pyramids in the inhospitable rainforest. These pyramids were built in the perfect alignment for studying the stars; the Maya were accomplished astronomers and built their calendar based on their observations of the night sky.
The Maya used a system of hieroglyphs to write, using about 800 of them to form words. Although they were probably not the first people to discover chocolate, they were the first people to make it into a drink.
Teach your children about Ancient Maya using our handy topic guide!
- Give the children a cut up sheet of Maya vocabulary and ask them to match the words to their correct definitions.
- The Teaching History with 100 Objects site has lots of ideas for teaching using the Maya maize god statue.
- Learn the Maya’s number words to 10.
- Try this sunny day investigation using shadows to observe the passage of time.
- Use this writing resource to study the writings of the Ancient Maya. The activity can be completed as a guest, or you can sign up for a free account, which allows you to save your work as you go along.
- Explore what remains of the Ancient Maya. What can we learn about them?
- Make your own Maya vessel from a can, using this sheet.
- These resources for teachers from Maya Archaeologist includes some terrific images and lots more useful content.
- Print out our Maya fact cards to use in class.
- Our Maya image pack is a terrific resource for your teaching.
Ancient Maya Facts
- The Ancient Maya civilization was established in around 1800 BCE. By 900CE, most of their cities had been abandoned.
- The Ancient Maya were one of the first civilizations to use zero in their number system.
- Archaeologists use images taken from space to locate Ancient Maya sites in the rainforest.
- The Maya wrote books on tree bark. Only four still survive and are known as the Maya codices.
- The Maya did not vanish when the cities were abandoned; about six million Maya people live in Central America today.
The Maya Novice
Learn about different Maya jobs in this reality TV show! There are more useful videos in this series (called History of Early Civilizations).
Running time: 5:00
How to make tortillas
Find out how to make an authentic tortilla.
Running time: 2:03
Xcaret – Pok-ta-Pok
This video shows how the ball game Pok-ta-Pok was played.
Running time: 1:05
Introducing the Maya civilisation
What was life like for the ancient Maya?
Running time: 4:12
Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!