When Studying Ancient South American Civilizations

We have reached Chapter 26 in Story of the World.  For all the history of the Americas before Europeans arrived, one chapter seems a small section to spend on the Western Hemisphere, so we decided to create an additional supplemental activity.  Enter, our Mayan Paper People

Whenever I create one of these Paper People Packets, I usually end up doing quite a bit of research to learn enough to create the clothing.

It's a fascinating study.  For instance, I did not know that the Mayans embellished their teeth with jewelry.  Or that feathers were for royalty only, and if a commoner wore a feather, they could be killed for their presumption.  Learning about the clothing helps us learn about the civilization.

I recommend using card-stock for printing our Paper People.  The clothing can be printed on standard white paper, both the color and the black and white sheets that are intended for being colored.

Smaller children will need help cutting out these detailed images.  And we always pull out either our colored pencils or our gel pens to do this kind of intricate coloring work.

But using these kind of artist tools often instills more of a respect for the work for children.  My kids go extra careful and really spend the time on these small pieces of art, when we do this. 

For the props and backgrounds for our paper people, I discovered that there is a peculiar hairless dog that is considered a Mayan animal.  We also learned that dog was considered a perfectly reasonable meal and was consumed regularly.  That was a shocking piece of information for my kids, actually.

So we included a dog, and a few pieces of Mayan artifacts, just to give our happy Mayan couple a feeling of home. 

It's a happy meeting of fun activity, historical facts and multi-cultural discovery. 

What are your favorite additional supplemental activities when teaching more about the Ancient World?  I'd love for you to share in the comments!

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