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Fascinating Fortress: Machu Picchu

Climb 3,000 steps to take a close look at Peru’s lost city of Machu Picchu. Explore an ancient, fascinating Incan fortress city.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Machu Picchu is located high in the Peruvian Andes, near Cuzco, overlooking the Urubamba River. The city was created sometime before 1500 by the Incas and is still revered as a sacred site. Machu Picchu is visited by thousands of people each year who admire its beauty and location.
    2. The city was constructed of blocks of cut stone. Students research the ruins of Machu Picchu and the Inca people to find out why Machu Picchu is called "The Lost City of the Incas." Look closely at photographs.
    3. Cover the art area with recycled newspaper. Use Crayola® Tempera Paint and a paintbrush to create a depiction of Machu Picchu. Look closely at the stone’s colors, hovering clouds, and surrounding mountainous landscape. Mix colors to match the hues in the landscape. Blend paints with a damp brush to achieve soft edges. Use a dry-brush technique (layer flecks of paint from a brush that is nearly dry) to show rock textures. Air-dry the painting.
    4. Students display their work with a report that they write about this remarkable site, which is one of the Forgotten Wonders of the world.
  • Standards

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

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    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.

    LA: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

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

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

  • Adaptations

    Students extend their research to Peru or other South American countries. What is the climate like in each country? What landforms are present? What Forgotten Wonders of the World are present? What ancient civilizations lived there? How did they live? What is life like today in these countries? Students organize their research into an electronic format and post these files to a class computer for future viewing.

    Encourage students to research Incan art forms. Create examples and display them with research and paintings. Have students brainstorm how the city was built and why the Incas left Machu Picchu.

    Expand research to Ancient Wonders of the World. Why do we recognize these today?


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