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Although the Victorian School specialises in teaching about the Victorian period, we also offer history days that cover other periods. As with our Victorian visits we come to your school to provide an informative and interesting Mayan History Day.
The Mayans were a civilisation in Southern America, in an area that is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and a bit more. Dating back to 2000BC and lasting through to the ninth century AD these people were accomplished in many things. Perhaps most famed for their calendar, they were also known for mathematical and astronomical skills. They also developed a system of writing in hieroglyphics. Their cities included striking architecture, whilst they were also adept at farming.
Although the Maya were largely peaceful, they did practise human sacrifice and turture. They had many gods which they worshipped, and they believed human sacrifice was required by them.
The Mayan civilisation began to collapse in the ninth century, although there is no proven reason for this. It has been suggested that they had simply exhausted the natural resources and the land could no longer sustain so many people. For the next few hundred years there was a large remaining Maya presence that was almost then destroyed by the Spanish Conquest in the 1500s.
This is a possible synopsis, but the exact details will vary with age of pupils, and amount of time available.
The teacher starts off throwing around a monkey(a God to the Mayans) for Q&A for a few minutes as an icebreaker. Introducing a real peacock feather headdress leads to talk a little about rank. Following this the importance the Maya placed on beauty is discussed. Talk about facial features of flat forehead, with demonstration, hand out pictures of Maya features, large nose, with visual, teeth, with visual, cross eyed attraction with demonstration.
A dressing-up game follows about beauty. There may be opportunitry to draw on each other`s hands (using safe, washable materials), like tattoos.
The class then learns about punishments and depending on the age, may be shown severed latex fingers, hand, eye, heart and head to demonstrate these punishments, and their sacrifice to the gods.
The class then goes on to learn a little about farming and water, temperature of Middle America. The rain dance is introduced and the students have a (race) where they walk on stilts.
If there is enough time material can be included such as their diet of insects(with esample plastic ones to show) and chocolate which they loved. There are other things like medicine etc. but there is rarely time to include this unless especially requested. Again, time permitting, the class can play pok a tok, which was a famous game played by the Maya.
For the afternoon, there is a range of games including, pok a tok, juggling tubes on feet, spears, drawing objects, word search, archaeological dig etc and this finishes the day.
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If you have another period i mind please enquire.