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Activity Overview

In this activity students will create a spider map that highlights what they have learned about the Maya. Their storyboards will include the location, environment, and natural resources available, and how these were used as food and to create tools, clothing, and buildings. Students can also include any Mayan cultural or religious practices, Mayan achievements, government, social structure or any other interesting information that they learned. Students can use the template provided but can also add or delete cells and change the headings as necessary. Students will then include a description and an illustration with appropriate scenes, characters and items. This can serve as a great activity to do as a pre-assessment or after the unit to see what students have learned.

Students Can Collaborate!

Teachers may wish for students to work together on this lesson which is possible with Storyboard That's Real Time Collaboration feature! With Real Time Collaboration, students can work on the same storyboard at the same time which is perfect for this lesson! As teachers know, collaborating on assignments allows students to think on a deeper level while increasing their communication and problem-solving skills. Collaboration can also help cut down on the time it takes to complete a storyboard. While there is no set limit to the number of users who can work on a storyboard at once, we recommend five users or fewer for optimal performance. All of our assignments default to individual. To make this lesson collaborative, teachers must enable collaboration for the assignment within the "Edit Assignment" tab.

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 describes the lives and traditions of the Maya.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Write a 1-3 sentence description of each cell.
  3. Create an illustration that represents each category using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.

Requirements: Location, environment (physical features and climate), natural resources, useful tools and items made from the natural resources, including clothing and buildings, achievements and cultural practices.

Lesson Plan Reference

Switch to: Common CoreArizonaCaliforniaColoradoFloridaGeorgiaIowaKansasMarylandMassachusettsNebraskaNew JerseyNew YorkNorth CarolinaOhioOklahomaPennsylvaniaTexasUtah


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

Environment and Culture Rubric
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Text and images include a clear explanation of the 8 categories provided in the template.
Text and images include an explanation of the categories, but the explanation may lack clarity or there may be some inaccuracies.
Text and images do not explain important facts. Information is mostly missing or inaccurate.
Storyboard Images and Effort
Student clearly shows effort to convey the facts through appropriate scenes, characters, items, symbols or infographics. Illustrations clearly show that time, care and effort have been put in.
Student attempts to convey facts through use of graphics, but the depiction may be confusing, disordered, or lack some detail.
Student does not clearly convey facts and the depictions are inaccurate or inappropriate.
Spelling and Grammar
Student uses exemplary spelling and grammar. There are no errors.
Student makes one or two minor errors in spelling and grammar.
Student makes multiple errors in spelling and grammar.

How To Help Students Perform Research on the Mayan Civilization


Introduce the Mayan Civilization

Start by giving a general summary of Mayan culture. Talk about its geographic position, rise and decline, historical era, culture, and accomplishments in fields like agriculture, arithmetic, and architecture.


Select a Basis for Research

Explain to the students that a civilization includes many aspects each of which requires extremely detailed research. List down some topics on which the students can perform research and ask each student to pick one theme. For instance, one student can perform research on cultural practices, one can perform research on educational practices, etc


Suggest Primary Sources

Encourage the students to support their research with the help of primary sources as they are the most credible. If there are any museums for these civilizations nearby, the teachers can arrange a field trip so the students can learn and understand more by looking at these primary sources.


Encourage Group Activities

Many times, the topics that students will be performing research on will be interconnected. For instance, the religious beliefs and cultural practices of the civilization can be interconnected so the two students performing research on these topics individually can form a group and connect with each other’s topics.


Present the Insights

When the students are done with their research, ask each student to prepare an engaging presentation to highlight the key points of their research and share it with their classmates. This way, students can gain more knowledge about other research topics and share their insights with their friends.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mayan Civilization: Location and Culture

Which modern day cities were the primary cities of the Mayan Civilization?

Tikal (in modern-day Guatemala), Calakmul (also in Guatemala), Caracol (in Belize), Copán (in Honduras), and Chichen Itza (on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula) are some of the prominent Mayan towns. Primarily, the Mayan civilization was based in what we call southern Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula as well as Belize, Guatemala, and parts of El Salvador and Honduras.

What constituted the core of Mayan culture?

The accomplishments of the Mayan civilization may be seen in its building, mathematics, astronomy, art, and literature. They also engaged in intricate religious practices and extensive economic, military, and agricultural endeavors. They went as far as creating their own calendars and irrigation systems to support their individuals.

What caused the Mayan civilization to collapse?

A number of ideas surround the complicated subject of the Mayan civilization's demise. Environmental deterioration, conflict, societal upheaval, and sometimes a mix of many of these aspects are some of the reasons. The final step in the decline of this civilization was the Spanish conquest in 1519 CE.

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