On Aztec Terraces

On Aztec Terraces lesson plan

How did people grow their food long ago? Discover how much (or how little) farming has changed with a realistic diorama.

  • 1.

    Invite students to find out about early farming methods such as terraces, fertilization, crop rotation, and irrigation. What agricultural practices were used in different areas? Which are still used today? Provide student groups with a variety of text and electronic resources to assist with their research.

  • 2.

    When research is complete, groups organize their information into a presentation format in order to share the new learning with classmates. To accompany their presentation, students will also create a diorama illustrating the farming method researched. The directions for artwork included in this plan are for illustrating Aztec terraces.

  • 3.

    Set the scene. Line the inside of the box with white paper. With Crayola® Washable Markers, decorate the inside of a box to look like terrain in the area you are showing. Draw mountains, lakes, or other features.

  • 4.

    Fold construction paper into stairstep terrace cornfields. Attach terraces to the box with Crayola School Glue. Air-dry terraces.

  • 5.

    Add details. Cut corn stalks and ears from construction paper with Crayola Scissors. Glue on toothpicks. Air-dry before poking toothpicks into paper layers. Mold any extra people or landscaping with Crayola Model Magic. Air-dry sculptures overnight before gluing them into the scene.

  • 6.

    Student groups present their learning about farming methods to classmates. Remind groups to integrate their artwork into the presentations.

Standards

  • LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about an deal with their physical environment and social conditions.
  • SS: Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.
  • SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

Adaptations

  • Possible classroom resources include: Aztec, Inca, and Maya by Elizabeth Banquedano; The Aztec Empire by Sunita Apte
  • Encourage students to research the farming practices of other civilizations of the time period when the Aztecs flourished. Compare and contrast the methods used by each civilization.
  • Compare and contrast the farming practices of the Aztecs with contemporary farming practices. How are they similar? How are they different?
  • Students research the crops indigenous to their home area. Who grew them first?