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The Ancient Maya studies for children

March 27, 2008

the-maya-book-cover.jpg This book is an awesome supplement to any studies for children on the ancient Maya. Written by Arlette Braman and published in 2003 by Wiley Publishers.

It is filled with crafts and games, way too many to do them all but my daughter chose the ones she was most interested in. Most importantly, we read the information given in relation to all of the activities.  Don’t skip all of the interesting Maya facts Braman inserts between the activities. I highly recommend this book if your child is studying the ancient Maya.

My ten-year-old built the Maya board game and we played it frequently for weeks. We used air-drying clay that was 10$ for a big box of it at Michaels and a piece of foam board, since we couldn’t find oak tag as the book says to use. She painted her clay pieces with standard craft paint and designed them to look like the kinds of animals and shapes she thought the Maya used.

maya-game.jpg maya-game-pieces.jpg

playingmaya-game.jpg Another suggestion is to use bigger pasta pieces for the “dice”. We used elbow macaroni and they were hard to keep track of at times.

She also built a headdress. She went on the Internet and researched the kind of bird likely to be known to the Maya and designed her headdress from the picture she printed. We used quick-drying plaster-coated fabric that we cut into strips. Much less messy and quicker than paper-mache. It was $10 for a roll at Michael’s but we got two crafts out of it. Then she painted it and glued on feathers.


Learning how Maya did Math was fascinating and Braman teaches how to calculate Maya Math symbols. We also learned about their use of Glyphs (they had no alphabet). We went to and figured out her name in Maya glyphs and then with the clay, carved the glyph. Now she can do a rubbing with it.  Her glyph is on the right.maya-glyph-rubbing.jpg She also crafted a couple of pieces about the sacrifice of humans by the Maya since it horrified and fascinated her at the same time. These are on the left.

Finally, we went to and she figured out her birthday in glyphs. Then she crafted an amulet out of clay.

maya-glyph.jpg maya-glyph-2.jpg

When it dries, she is thinking of painting it gold and she will put a leather cord through the holes to wear around the neck.

We read one other book about the Maya : Kids During the Time of the Maya by Caroline Levchuck.

Have fun studying the ancient Maya!!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. kelleta permalink
    March 27, 2008 1:56 pm

    that is so cool that book. where did you get it from? hi i love the secert books that i can’t tell you i am from london and i have to say i love what this women said

  2. Elizabeth permalink
    April 8, 2008 11:01 am

    Great entry, Jennifer. The link is fantastic and the photographs always enhance your blog. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. April 10, 2008 9:52 pm

    I am the author of Secrets of Ancient Cultures: The Maya, and I am thrilled to see the great job you’ve done with the Maya crafts from my book. I’m so happy you enjoyed the book and your projects look terrific!

  4. June 7, 2009 2:18 pm

    any ideas of what crafts i could make that involves ancient maya spors or req.?

  5. Irma permalink
    November 30, 2010 12:10 am

    Wow I’m so happy to see what a great job you did with the craft ideas from this wonderful book. This book is definitely one of my favorites… I will be doing some of these projects with my second graders…. they love it too! =)

  6. Dawn permalink
    July 29, 2011 11:34 am

    I love this book! I am an elementary Spanish teacher and I recently travelled to Honduras. I visited the ruins in Copan and will be teaching about Mayan Culture and History this year. This book has been a fabulous resource for me as well.

    Thanks for the photos of your daughters’ work. I love the pieces that she made for the game!


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