Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary that students will see in their readings or presentations aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary related to the Aztec.

Students will preview the terms and definitions and use whole class or small group discussion to demonstrate their understanding of each meaning. When students define and illustrate each term, they master the application of it and retain it as part of their lexicon.

Aztec Civilization Vocabulary

Amanteca: Aztec craftsmen who worked with feathers or plumeria creating clothing and headdresses for the nobility.

Aqueduct: A manmade channel used to transport water over a long distance.

Causeway: A road across a waterway such as the ones the Aztecs built across the lake leading to the capital of Tenochtitlan.

Codex: Like the Mayas, the Aztecs created books of paper that were folded like an accordion.

Cortes: Hernan Cortes is the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Aztec in 1521.

Chinampa: The Aztecs built these man-made islands used for growing crops around the city of Tenochtitlan because the land was so swampy.

Conquistadors: Spanish soldiers and conquerors who colonized most of Central and South American for Spain at the expense of the native inhabitants.

Huitzilopochtli: The primary god of the Aztecs, he is the god of sun and war and the patron god of Tenochtitlan.

Maize: A vegetable like corn that was a staple food for the Aztecs and other civilizations of Mesoamerica.

Mesoamerica: A region of southern North American that stretches from Mexico to Costa Rica.

Montezuma: Two of the most important emperors of the Aztecs were named Montezuma or Moctezuma. Montezuma the II was emperor when the Spanish arrived in 1519.

Quetzalcoatl: An Aztec god in the form of a feathered serpent, it is the god of the winds, rain, creator of the world and mankind.

Tenochtitlan: The capital city of the Aztec Empire.

Tlatoani / Huey Tlatoani: The king of a city-state, the word Tlatoani means "speaker" in the Aztec language Nahuatl. Huey Tlatoani meant the emperor of the Aztec empire and means "great speaker".

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a spider map that defines and illustrates vocabulary relating to the Aztecs.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the key terms you have chosen.
  3. In the description boxes, write the definition of the term.
  4. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.

Requirements: Must have 3 terms, correct definitions and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/3] Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/4] Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/6] Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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