Lesson: Aztecs - Lesson 1

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Lesson Objective

SWBAT: - Learn key factors important to the Aztec civilization and relate them to the world we live in today - Learn about the Tenochtitlan, the ancient Aztec empire, why it was unique, and create their own murals, using Diego Rivera’s art as a guide - Learn new vocabulary words and the slang words that they are related to

Lesson Plan


Aztecs Text: The Aztecs: Rise and Fall of a Great Empire (High Five Reading)

Copies of pictures from chapters 1-3

Vocabulary list on board

Map of world (just to refer to Mexico)




1)      Larva/worm

2)      Slang – food


1)      A community that is led by a ruler

2)      A person who has a lot of power in a certain community of people (like, Jay-Z in music, clothing and owing companies)





Content Vocabulary (specific to Aztecs):





Lesson Plan:

1)      Introduce vocabulary words

a.       For grub and empire, what do they already know about these words?  Begin to draw connections to the “real” meaning the current slang meaning

2)      Quick overview of the text: We are going to begin reading this text about the Aztecs, the Aztecs are an ancient civilization of people who lived in the region we now refer to as Mexico (show map); we are going to learn about how their civilization grew and what happened to them when the Spanish came in the 1500s.

a.       Can you think of any other group of people that were affected by Europoeans, specifically those from Spain, who brought boats over?  What happened to those people?

3)      Begin reading

4)      Stop at page 7: Turn and Talk: Why do you think the Aztecs gave the Gods the blood and hearts of people?

5)      Stop at page 8: What do we know about a valley?  What do you think they lived near?

6)      Stop at page 11: Turn and Talk: What did we read about in chapter 1?  What were the main points?

7)      Chart them quickly on a chart

8)      Stop at beginning of 13 (after italics): How do you think they could have built on a lake?  What would that have looked like?

9)      Stop at 17: Turn and talk: What did we read about in Chapter 2?  What were the main points?

10)  SKIP 25 and 26

11)  Stop at 27: Turn and talk: What did we read about in Chapter 3?  What were the main points?

12)  Students will go back to their seats and work in groups of 4 creating their own mural of the Aztec, using the graphic organizer (attached)



13)  Assessment – none, we will continue to read this book the following week


14)  Reflection – I noticed that many students were extremely engaged in the text and think I can break this lesson down into TWO days with more activities: they wanted to learn so much more about the Aztecs and I felt that I had to rush through it (even though I was only reading 25 pages from a small book). 


Lesson Resources

Better Lesson Aztec 1 Mural Checklist  
Better Lesson Aztec 1 Pictures  
Link to Aztec Text


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