Resources to Teach Kids About the Maya, Inca, and Aztec

Published:
March 26, 2020

Contributor:
Jeannette Tuionetoa

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I love writing about subjects that I know little about. It motivates me to teach my kids way more than I ever knew. There is a particular joy in teaching them things we can even remember or never learned. One of those subjects is the civilizations of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec. These resources to teach kids about the Maya, Inca, and Aztec will help your family and mine learn about ancient civilizations that were here before us.

Resources to Teach Kids About the Maya, Inca, and Aztec

Although we as Americans are here now, the civilizations of the Maya, Inca, and Aztecs were three of the most advanced before Europeans got here. Although these civilizations are usually grouped together and shared some similarities, they also had many differences, including their location.

Similarities of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec:

Each empire was impressive in building and construction, to say the least. The Maya and Aztec people built pyramids. The Aztecs also built causeways and aqueducts to connect their river/swamp infested area. The Inca’s citizens built a 10,000-mile road system to combine their whole empire.

Both the Inca and the Maya developed their own language and religion that everyone had to learn.

The Aztecs and the Incas were both conquerors. The people were huge conquerors who made the conquered people become part of their community. The Aztecs also required a tribute or service to be paid from the conquered people. The Incas although conquerors, were friendly conquerors who persuaded leaders to surrender to them.

Differences and more information about the Maya, Inca, and Aztec:

Maya

The Maya civilization began as early as 2000 BC and was located in Central America, made up of southern Mexico, Guatemala, the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and northern El Salvador. They are best known for their pyramids built for their gods that towered over the jungle vegetation.

They were the only civilization that developed an advanced written language. The Maya also excelled in mathematics, art, architecture, and astronomy.

The Maya were great traders of food due to their plentiful supply, while the Mayas and Aztecs traded bright feathers.

Interesting facts of the Maya

  • Mayan pyramids and cities are still being discovered today!
  • They loved to eat chocolate.
  • Their hieroglyphs have various combinations of over 800 hieroglyphs; that is pretty complex.
  • The Europeans burned books written by the Maya.
  • They had crazy beauty routines like deforming their skulls in an elongated shape as kids.
  • Mayans painted their human sacrifices the color blue.
  • Mayan people are still around today, mostly living in Guatemala.

Learn About History the Fun Way! Mayan Mysteries

Mayan Mysteries Game Review | Teach Beside Me

The civilization of the Ancient Maya FREE Word Search Puzzle | Student Handouts

Teaching the Mayan Number System | Math Giraffe

The Ancient Maya Pack | Teaching Packs

Inca

Like the Aztecs, the Inca began in the 1400s but were centered in Peru, ruling over much of the west coast of South America. The Inca had a complex government and system of roads that created a society with employment, food, and homes. They had an estimated population of over 10 million people.

The Inca were different from the others in that they were an organized empire and were normally a peaceful people.

Although they were conquered in 1533 by the Spanish, their society was already in turmoil with civil war and smallpox.

Interesting facts of the Inca

  • The Incas used a system of colored and knotted strings as records, math, and maybe even language called quipu.
  • They believed in reincarnation.
  • They had advanced farming techniques irrigating their crops through canals and ditches.

Machu Picchu Reading and Activities: Learn About The Incas! | Kid World Citizen

Machu Picchu Inca FREE Coloring Page | Education.com

Inca Textiles FREE Worksheet | Education.com

Aztec

The Aztec Empire was in central Mexico and began around the 1400s until the Spanish came in 1519.

The Aztec people centered around religion and gods.

They had about 1000 gods with the god of the sun, and war being the most sacred. They built their pyramids as temples for their gods and went to war to capture people – who they would then sacrifice to their gods.

What is super weird is that their priests were said to have started seeing omens of doom in 1517. Sure enough, two years later (1519), they were conquered by the Spanish. By the way, the Aztecs put up a war when the Spaniards came while the others just came to an end when the Spanish arrived.

In much of what I have read, it seems as if the Aztecs were the most important of the three in our history.

Interesting facts about the Aztec

  • In more than one resource, the Aztecs were described as psychopaths. They had an estimated 20,000 sacrifices (skinned, dismembered, decapitated, and hearts ripped out of living people). You may want to leave that part out for the young learners.
  • They loved sport and the arts.
  • Aztecs formed a complex system of slavery.
  • The people of this region really called themselves Mexicas (where the word Mexico came from). The Spaniards actually called the people the Aztecs after conquering them.
  • The Mexicas/Aztecs were master accountants.

Aztec FREE Printable Fact Cards | Teaching Ideas

FREE Printables and Aztec Activities for Kids | WonderKidsUK

5 Fun & Free Ideas to Teach About the Aztecs | The Colorado Classroom

Your family will enjoy these resources to teach kids about the Maya, Inca, and Aztec. Grab them below:

FREE Crossword Puzzle | Ducksters.com

Aztec Inca Maya Unit | Wise Guys

Word Search Game FREE | Ducksters.com

Mesoamerica Reading Passages – Questions – Annotations | StudentSavvy

Aztec, Maya, & Inca Civilization Advancements Task Cards | Literacy in Focus

FREE Aztec, Inca, Maya Comparison Charts | Teaching in Real Life

The Aztec, Mayan, and Inca History Resources | Raising Royalty

Maya, Aztec, Inca Board Game Project | Becky’s Social Studies Center

Aztecs, Incas and Mayans Study | Stacy Sews and Schools

Maya, Aztec, Inca Test – Answer Key Included! | Becky’s Social Studies Center

Mesoamerica STEM Challenges | StudentSavvy

Maya, Aztec, & Inca – Geography and Civilization | Literacy in Focus

8 Ideas for Teaching the civilizations of Mesoamerica | Education with Docrunning

Maya, Inca & Aztec Bundle | The Peanut Gallery

Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas Unit | Hannah Meadows

The Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs are extremely interesting historical civilizations to share with your kids. The architecture, art, people, and ancient cities left behind will keep your children interested while exploring the advanced civilizations of our history. Grab these resources to teach kids about the Maya, Inca, and Aztec societies in your homeschool this year.

Want to explore other ancient civilizations? Check out these resources for a great start:

FREE Ancient History Resources, Unit Studies & Printables

Complete Living Book List for Teaching Ancient History

FREE Seven Wonders of the Ancient World History Unit

Ancient Rome Resources & FREEBIES for Your Digital Homeschool

Resources to Teach Kids About the Maya, Inca, and Aztec

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