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Aztec Maize

Corn (maize) was a staple in the Aztec culture. Show the Aztec’s sophisticated corn-growing techniques in a realistic diorama.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students research the role of corn in ancient Aztec culture. In what area of the Americas did the Aztecs live? When? Why was agriculture, and especially corn, so important to them? How was it grown?
    2. Students stand a recycled shoebox on its side. Cut out the top to make an open scene. To make terraces for the cornfield, fold a recycled filefolder back and forth like a staircase. Use Crayola® Scissors to cut it to fit inside the box. Glue the field in place with Crayola School Glue.
    3. Students color the background inside the box with Crayola Gel Markers and Twistable Crayons. Make a mountain with sun and clouds. For a 3-D effect, such as trees, draw items on recycled file folders, cut them out, and glue inside the box.
    4. Shape corn stalks and golden ears with Model Magic. Glue corn into the field.
    5. Shape Aztec farmers with Model Magic. Glue them in the scene. Air-dry the diorama before moving it to display.
  • Standards

    LA: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools.

    SS: Give examples that show how scarcity and choice govern our economic decisions.

    VA: Use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Farming and finding ways to produce the best crops were essential to maintain the Aztec people's livelihood. Students research how agriculture was a part of Aztec culture and what technologies were used to increase the crop yield (ex. irrigation).

    Students research what foods were made with corn. Use the Internet to find recipes to make and taste.

    Students research what other crops were native to North and Central America. Did the Aztecs also grow these foods and, if so, what did they use these crops for? Why did the Aztecs plant bean and squash seeds with the corn? Organize research and prepare an electronic presentation for classmates.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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