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Floating Gardens of Mexico City

The canals and gardens of Xochimilco, Mexico, are filled with history and environmental interest for tourists and residents alike. Capture this unique travel experience with dramatic black and white Crayola Color Explosion™ Paper and Markers.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. A suburb of Mexico City, Xochimilco (Nahuatl meaning where flowers grow), consists of 115 miles (185 km) of canals and gardens, which are all that is left of the five lakes of the Valley of Mexico. Ancient residents constructed raised fields (chinampas) amid these waters, and the agricultural tradition continues today. However, the area has also become a prized destination for local Mexicans and visitors alike. Groups of people hire boats (trajineras) and tour the gardens along the canals. Vendors sidle up in more boats to sell food and souvenirs, and play music. Boaters often stop at markets and gardens along the way. It is a very festive excursion.
    2. To make a triarama showing a scene from this area, fold over one corner of black Color Explosion™ Paper to create a square. Cut off excess strip with Crayola Scissors. Lightly fold the square into half both ways to create four triangles. Unfold and cut along one fold into the center of the square.
    3. Before sliding one triangle under another to pop up the triarama, use the black Color Explosion Marker to draw the reflected light on the water on one bottom triangle. Also show the night sky in the two top triangles (maybe with some fireworks exploding). Do not draw on the triangle that slips under the other one to form the base of the triarama because it will not show.
    4. To make the trajineras, look at pictures of these barge-like vehicles and draw the flat-bottomed boats using the black outline marker on white Color Explosion paper. These boats can hold more than 10 people and contain tables for picnicking and even space for dancing under their canopies. The boats crowd along the canals, so make at least two of them to create a more realistic scene.
    5. Cut out the boats. Include tabs or edges along the bottom of each boat that may be folded and glued to the triarama. Use a white Color Explosion Marker to decorate them. They are festooned with floral designs, Mexican names, and other colorful designs.
    6. Arrange the boats inside the triarama, placing the larger ones closer and the smaller ones further away to add a sense of perspective to the scene. Glue them by their tabs and folded edges to the triarama. Air-dry the glue.
  • 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: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

  • Adaptations

    Encourage students to research how the Aztecs constructed these fields and how they are maintained today with the natural byproducts of the canals. What is grown on these islands besides flowers?

    Xochimilco was selected as one of UNESCO's 470 World Heritage Sites. Does this site reflect the history of the entire area in some ways? What sites near you have been awarded similar honors? If so, find out why!

    Mariachi music is part of the culture of Mexico. Allow students to listen to this form of music. Compare and contrast Mariachi music to contemporary music that students listen to today. How do they feel it compares?


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