THE MESOAMERICAN MYSTIQUE
BY: Karen Grimes Cooper
St. Andrew the Apostle School, Indianapolis, 9/94
Purpose: In order to gain a better understanding of the cultural diversity in the northern region of Central America, students will participate in the following lesson plan which focuses on research, archaeology, historical videos, and travel highlights.
Teaching Level: The following lesson plan is most appropriate for grades 7-12
#1 - How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process and report information from a spatial perspective.
#2 - How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places and environments in a spatial context.
#3 - How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places and environments on Earth's surface.
#4 - The physical and human characteristics of places.
#6 - How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.
#9 - The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface.
#10 - The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.
#12 - The processes, patterns and functions of human settlement.
#13 - How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface.
#15 - How physical systems affect human systems.
#16 - The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution and importance of resources.
#17 - How to apply geography to interpret the past.
Objectives: Upon completion of the following series of activities,
students will be able to 1. list various archaeological sites in
2. place these archaeological sites on a blank outline map of Mexico,
3. relate the “theory of Atlanteans of the lost continent Atlantis” visiting and settling in the MesoAmerican area,
4. indicate the Mexican states and their approximate borders as they change historically, and
5. research points of interest about northern Central America.
- Feel the Warmth of Mexico brochure from a local travel agent
- AAA Tour Book / Travel Guide of Mexico
- political map / blackline maps of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula
- blank blackline maps of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula
- colored pencils
- In Search of Atlantis video by NGS
- In Search of Aztecs video by NGS
1. Divide the students into cooperative learning groups. Each group should spend time in the resource center researching information on as many of the archaeological sites in CENTRAL MEXICO, SOUTHERN MEXICO, the MEXICAN GULF COAST, and the YUCATAN PENINSULA.
2. Each student will be given blackline maps of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula; on the maps, students are to identify the various archaeological / historical sites along with a date of probable existence and the title of the site.
3. On the blackline maps, the students should color the states according to the time of development (based upon the historical date of existence according to archaeologists and historians). Students should develop a map key.
4. Each student should develop their own series of maps, but the small groups should discuss any possible conclusions that they may be able to draw as to “why” the archaeological sites are located where they are located.
5. Each group is to present their findings to the class; maps will be displayed around the school for further learning.
6. As a class, view the In Search of Aztecs video. Discuss the students’ findings with information in the video.
6. View the In Search of Atlantis video. Discuss.
7. Select the following sites to research and to discuss further: Teotihuacan, Tula, Xochicalco, La Venta, and Chichen Itza. Include an in depth study of the following features associated with the above sites: the legend of Quetzalcoatl, Zapotec - Toltec - Mayan - and Aztec cultures, the Olmec and Chichimec Cultures, and the Lost Continent of Atlantis.
8. Discuss ALL research and the “theory of Atlantis” as it possibly relates to MesoAmerica.
9. Students should convey their own conclusions in either class discussions or an essay. Encourage the students to research the subjects further. Include other recent theories that relates to ancient astronauts,... Discuss “how” current research/theories impact American (South, Central and North) culture today; also discuss “how” the students’ research has impacted their perceptions/misperceptions of history.