Friday, June 25, 2010

Aztecs, Mayans and Incans...Oh, my!

Yesterday we finished up our unit study on Aztecs, Mayans and Incans. I used the thematic unit pictured below. I really enjoy these books. They use a mix of fiction and non-fiction books and incorporate many different types of topics for a well-rounded lesson on their own. Plus, they're reasonably priced!

Over the course of the past few weeks we've read a fiction book on the Mayans (The Corn Grows Ripe) and another on the Incans (Secrets of the Andes). We've watched short animated movies through Brain Pop and did vocabulary, geography and tests through there as well.

We watched Cracking the Mayan Code, a PBS movie through NetFlix streaming, last week. Then we read the DK Aztecs non-fiction book and discussed all the things we've learned about them and the Conquistadors. We also read Amazing Mayan Inventions and made drawings of our own inventions. I printed out things through Enchanted Learning for some Mexico worksheets including coloring the Mexico flag.

With our heads swimming with codices, step pyramids and gold we rounded out our studies with a hands-on project: Geosafari's Mayan Dig.

I found this on clearance at my local Lakeshore Learning. Even not on sale it's a fairly good price. It comes with a very comprehensive booklet with math problems and little worksheets for the artifacts you find. You could really do a fairly complete lesson just with this kit. There is a little scraper and paint brush and a clay brick. Alex has been anxious to do this for awhile.

It's a lot more work than you'd think, scraping away slivers of clay while trying to find the four artifacts hidden within. He held his own for a good bit.

But then his hands got tired so I took over. It would have been better if his sisters got into it more. Then they could have swapped scraping jobs. Apparently, being an archeologist isn't as much fun as Indy makes it look.

Finally we found something!

What is it?! What could it be!? The kids were delighted when we started pulling out items and it renewed their enthusiasm for the tedious task of scraping the clay. I think that euphoria is what archeologists live for. Maybe they just like getting dirty, too.

I was actually quite impressed with the size and quality of the "artifacts" in the kit. The three big kids are outside playing archeologist and curator as I type.

Now, on to Ancient Egypt. I have a Dig kit for that too!

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