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dig Parent's / Teacher's Guide

Mayan Rivals (November / December 2002)

Teacher Guide prepared by: Peggy Epstein, Language Arts Teacher with 25 years experience from Shawnee Mission Schools, Overland Park, Kansas, and Hickman Mills School District, Kansas City, Missouri. Epstein has a Master's Degree in Instruction and Curriculum from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
  • to develop an understanding of the Mayan civilization and the on-going attempts to understand and preserve its cultural artifacts
  • to increase historical perspective, and to re-create some methods of historical preservation
  • to improve comprehension skills by organizing a variety of information
  • to practice writing skills through a variety of activities, both practical and creative
  • to develop and enrich vocabulary
  • to participate in small group and whole class activities
For "Trouble in the Heartland" (pages 6-7)
Help students wade through densely presented information by the use of a simple graphic organizer. Have them fold a piece of blank paper into 4 squares and then number both sides #1 - #8. Label each square as follows (depending on the level of your students, you might want to prepare these numbered and labeled sheets ahead of time).
  1. When Maya people lived
  2. Names of their cities
  3. What cities had in them
  4. Name of river
  5. What products were transported on the river
  6. Name of two rival cities
  7. Names of their rulers
  8. Amount of time wars lasted
As an additional activity, ask students to compose a short paragraph using only the information on their graphic organizer. As a class brainstorm some ideas for a good topic sentence.

For "The Sky is Born at Yaxchilan" (pages 8-10)
After reading the article together, explain to students that they will be making their own "ceremonial stairways" (see last paragraph, page 8).
  1. Show students how to make "stairsteps" by folding their paper accordion or fan-style. When they're done folding, they should have 8 sections (or four risers and four treads).
  2. Explain the difference between risers and treads (see information under picture on page 8).
  3. Flatten out the paper.
  4. Ask students to think of four major events in their own lives (perhaps birth, first day of school, a vacation, a move, etc.) and write these prominently on the four risers.
  5. Then, using ideas from the magazine, decorate the stairway in the Mayan style.
  6. Display. If you have floor space or a long table, tape the bottom step down about 5" from the wall, and then tape the top riser to the wall.
For "Play Ball" (pages 12-13)
As an alternative to the wonderful (but involved) activity on pages 14 - 15, ask students, working in groups, to create their own rules for this ancient game.
  1. Come up with a name for the game.
  2. Use at least 10 facts from the article (including the "Dig Data" box).
  3. Use at least 5 of your own ideas.
  4. Check over your rules to make sure they are clear, exact, and non-violent.
  5. Be prepared to present your rules to the class.
(If posterboard is available, each group could prepare rules written out for easier presentation.)

For "Entrance to the Underworld" (pages 16-17)
Explain to students that they will be going on their own "dig" looking for facts "buried" in this article. All the information will be found on these two pages - but not in order.
Find out:
  • what Green Sun Turtle Tooth is
  • what Piedras Negras means
  • what Yokib means
  • what names can do
  • what was in the monster's eyes
  • what Ruler 7's throne was shaped like
  • what caves and large holes were intended to be
  • what Tatiana Proskouriakoff found out
As an added activity, you might ask students to number the facts in the order in which they appeared in the article.

For "All in the Glyph" (pages 18-20)
Questions for students: Wouldn't it be fun to be an ah tz'ib (scribe) or would you rather be a "translator," someone who decodes hieroglyphs? Answer: Here's a chance to be both.
  1. Design an emblem which you think represents your city, town, or state.
  2. Following the "Maya Numbers" section in the box at the bottom of page 27, write out three simple math problems.
  3. Write three short sentences about lunch in your school cafeteria following the order suggested in the section called "The Name Tells All" on page 27.
  4. Trade with another student or two and see if you can figure out each other's "glyphs.""
For "Simon Says" (pages 22-23)
As a class, brainstorm other questions you would like to ask Simon. Perhaps a letter could be written to him - or a professor of archaeology at a local college or university.

For "Home Improvement" (page 24)
To give students the idea of the constantly evolving Mayan structures, divide them into groups of 4 - 5 students, giving each group several sheets of the same colored paper. (You'll also need large sheets of white paper, 3x5 cards - one for each group, scissors, glue, and black pens.)
  1. Ask students to glue the 3x5 card onto the center of the white paper and draw a black line around it. This represents the basic structure. Now, using cut-outs from their colored paper, they are to add 3 - 5 additions to the structure, none larger than the 3x5 card. These are to be labeled as any of the following: courtyard, terrace, platform, staircase, arena, pyramid, multiroom palace, ball court, sports arena, corridor, enclosed space (room), etc.
  2. Pass the white paper onto the next group. Using their color, they will add to the structure.
  3. Continue passing the white paper until all colors have been added.
  4. Display the examples of "Mayan Home Improvement."
For "Then and Now at Piedras Negras" (pages 28-29)
Begin by discussing the method of excavation no longer permitted (stripping away trees and vegetation). Then ask students to list the following from the section called "Masons to the Rescue" on page 29. Note: Vocabulary words: "mason" and "repoint."
  1. Four steps Mark Child and a team of masons followed to save P-7.
  2. Two materials they needed and the way they got each.
For "Danger! Danger!" (pages 30-31)
Creating an ad campaign: Peoples have come together in the fight to conserve these sights. Using very specific information from the article, tell students they have been hired as an advertising company to let the world know the situation. Students may either be assigned certain jobs or select from the following advertising methods:
  1. magazine and / or newspaper ads
  2. billboards
  3. slogans
  4. posters
  5. bumper stickers
  6. radio or tv spots.
Students might work in groups or individually, but each item should have its own checklist as to the elements on which they will be evaluated.


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