Incas, Aztecs, and Mayas
Age 10-12: Concept 4 - Systems and Interaction: Unit 3

In this unit, you'll explore the Mayan and Aztec civilizations of Mesoamerica and the Incan civilization of the Andes, learning about each society's political, economic, and social systems; culture, religious beliefs, and history.

You will create your own codex, learn to do math the Mayan way, make an Incan quipu, and learn about jaguar and eagle knights as you explore life in these three fascinating civilizations. For your final project, you'll travel back in time in an imaginary time machine on a journey to visit the Maya, Aztecs, and Incas and then report back on what you discovered!


  • Able to read and comprehend novels at a late 6th or 7th grade reading level
  • Able to write multiple paragraphs on a topic
  • Familiar with the five-paragraph essay
  • Usually used by children in the fifth or sixth grade

Table of Contents

  • Lesson 1: Mayan and Aztec History and Geography
  • Lesson 2: Daily Life of the Mayas and Aztecs
  • Lesson 3: Mesoamerican Warfare
  • Lesson 4: Mesoamerican Knowledge
  • Lesson 5: Mesoamerican Religion and Celebration
  • Lesson 6: History and Government of the Incan Empire
  • Lesson 7: Daily Life of the Incas
  • Lesson 8: The Art and Beliefs of the Incas
  • Lesson 9: Incan Knowledge and Warfare
  • Lesson 10: Legacies of the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas
  • Final Project: Time Machine (3 Days)

Summary of Skills

Moving Beyond the Page is based on state and national standards. These standards are covered in this unit.
  • Compare and contrast the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the Mesoamerican and Andean civilizations. (Social Studies)
  • Describe the artistic and oral traditions and architecture in the three civilizations. (Social Studies)
  • Describe the Mesoamerican achievements in astronomy and mathematics, including the development of the calendar and the Mesoamerican knowledge of seasonal changes to the civilizations' agricultural systems. (Social Studies)
  • Describe the relationship between the location of natural resources and economic development, and assess the impact on selected cultures, countries, and regions in South America. (Social Studies)
  • Describe the role of key groups and evaluate their impact on historical and contemporary societies of South America. (Social Studies)
  • Examine the basic needs and wants of all human beings and assess the influence of factors such as environment, values, and beliefs in creating different cultural responses. (Social Studies)
  • Examine the causes of key historical events in selected areas of South America and analyze the short-range and long-range effects on political, economic, and social institutions. (Social Studies)
  • Explain how and where each empire arose and how the Aztec and Incan empires were defeated by the Spanish. (Social Studies)
  • Identify historical events such as invasions, conquests, and migrations, and evaluate their relationship to current issues. (Social Studies)
  • Identify major discoveries, innovations, and inventions, and assess their influence on societies past and present. (Social Studies)
  • Identify the concepts associated with culture such as language, religion, family, and ethnic identity, and analyze how they both link and separate societies. (Social Studies)
  • Study the locations, landforms, and climates of Mexico, Central America, and South America and their effects on Mayan, Aztec, and Incan economies, trade, and the development of urban societies. (Social Studies)
  • Study the roles of people in each society, including class structures, family life, warfare, religious beliefs and practices, and slavery. (Social Studies)
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