KS2 Mayan civilization outstanding history lessons

Teaching the MayaWhen teaching this Mayan unit at KS2, you are advised to use the medium-term planner (see medium term planning) from which all the outstanding lessons flow. Starting with exploring the reasons why the Maya topic is on the curriculum, pupils learn how the Mayan civilization grew so strong when the odds against it were so huge. They then devote most time to exploring the characteristics features of the Mayan society and comparing it with the state of Britain at the same time i.e. about AD1100. To help pupils develop the use of evidence, they are asked to work out how we can be so sure about what life was like for the Maya a thousand years ago. The topic concludes with an open-ended enquiry which challenges pupils to work collaboratively to create their own plausible answer to the riddle of why the Mayan  civilization came to such an abrupt end.

Keeping your teaching of the Maya at KS2 up-to-date.

Key point 1

Historical opinion is changing all the time often in light of new evidence, literally. The latest technology using lasers has enabled archaeologists to discover up to 60,000 hidden Mayan buildings in present-day Guatemala. Unfortunately they can't be dated. Most of these are houses,...
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Why do we study the Maya in history at KS2? (KQ1)

Following a brief introduction to locate the Mayan civilization in time and place, stress that we knew very little about this society until recent excavations. Then give over most of the lesson to pupils finding out for themselves possible reasons why the Maya were such...
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KQ4 What was life like for the Mayan people 1,000 years ago? SMART TASK


This multi-faceted enquiry ranges from scene-setting story telling, and making deductions (using the strategies Zones of Inference and Prove it!), through to creative uses of evidence with Call My Bluff and Curator’s dilemma. At the heart is pupils asking and answering, historical questions showing an...
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Mayan civilization and human sacrifice KQ5

KQ5 If the Maya were so civilized why then did they carry out human sacrifice? SMART TASK

Please note that this can be a delicate issue to be treated with care. Whilst some pupils will be quite blasé about human sacrifices, others will not. We have...
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