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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 Inca.

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.

Example Inca Vocabulary

Cacao: Seeds that can be used to make cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate.

Coya: Queen of the Inca Empire and wife of the Sapa Inca, the emperor.

Cuzco: The capital of the Inca Empire and still a major city in Peru today.

Huaca: A sacred object that the Inca believed was inhabited by a spirit. It could be a man-made object such as a statue or amulet, or natural such as stones or mountains.

Inti: The primary god of the Inca, it was the god of the sun. Rulers were thought to be descendants of Inti.

Intihuatana: A ritual stone that was associated with the Inca calendar and the sun.

Manco Capac: Considered the first "Sapa Inca" or emperor, Manco Capac is credited with founding the kingdom of Cuzco.

Machu Picchu: Called "lost city of the Inca" by some. Machu Picchu is an Inca city high in the mountains built around 1450 that was not destroyed by the Spanish during their conquest. It was re-discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and is a popular tourist destination.

Pachacuti: An Inca emperor (1438-1472), Machu Picchu is said to have been built for Pachacuti.

Peru: The modern-day South American country where the center of the Inca Empire were located, including the city of Cuzco.

Pizarro: Francisco Pizarro was the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Inca Empire in 1532.

Quechua: The language of the Inca. It is still spoken today.

Quipu:The Inca did not have a written language, but they kept a system of records called Quipu which used knotted string to record events and transactions.

Sapa Inca: The emperor of the Inca Empire.

Tawantinsuyu: The Inca name for their empire in the language Quechua, it means "Land of Four Quarters".

Viracocha: Father of the sun god Inti, Viracocha was another primary god considered the creator of Earth and the Inca people.

Willaq Umu: The high priest of the Inca and advisor to the Sapa Inca who was also usually the brother of the Sapa Inca.

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 storyboard defining and illustrating key vocabulary related to the Inca civilization.

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

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

Define and illustrate each of the key terms.
7 Points
4 Points
1 Points
The vocabulary words are correctly defined.
The meaning of the vocabulary words can be understood but it is somewhat unclear.
The vocabulary word is not clearly defined
The storyboard illustrations clearly depict the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The illustrations relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words but it they are difficult to understand.
The illustrations do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

How To Conduct Different Activities to Help Students Comprehend and Retain Inca Vocabulary


Discuss Learning Goals

Clearly state the learning objectives of these activities to the students. Students will be able to perform better once they know what is expected of them and how they can achieve it. The purpose of this activity is to familiarize students with vocabulary from different civilizations and help them comprehend and understand different words.


Make Vocabulary Flashcards

Help the students make a series of flashcards with the English translations of Inca terms on one side and the words themselves on the other. Encourage pupils to utilize and review them frequently to help them remember them. Students can make these flashcards using different visuals, illustrations, and colors and decorate them as they like.


Play Bingo with Vocabulary

Instead of using numbers, create bingo cards with Inca phrases. As you read aloud the English translations, have the students annotate their cards with the appropriate Inca term. This introduces a competitive and engaging aspect. Students will enjoy the game as well as learn and retain the vocabulary terms.


Use Sentence Formation

Give the students a list of vocabulary terms from the Inca civilization, then encourage them to create sentences utilizing those phrases. This enables the students to comprehend the context in which the words are employed and use their own creativity to use these modern words in different sentences.


Be Flexible With the Learning Pace

Students have different learning pace and proficiency levels. Teachers can customize activities for students who take more time to develop an understanding and provide some individualized help. Encourage the students to help out each other and share knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions About Incan Civilization Vocabulary

What language was primarily used by the Incan Civilization?

Quechua, a language family still spoken by millions of people in South America today, was the primary language of the Inca civilization. Students can reflect on the evolution of this language and how it has changed over the centuries.

What were the primary social classes in Incan civilization, and what vocabulary was used to describe them?

The kurakas, the hatun runa, and the mitmaq were the three basic social classes of the Incan civilization. The words "kuraka" (noble), "hatun runa" (commoner), and "mitmaq" (slave) are all related.

How did the Incas communicate and keep records of information?

The Inca kept records using a system of ropes and colored strings that were twisted together called quipus. They also used pictures to express messages in their "quipu camayoc" pictorial writing system.

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