Aztec Empire Lesson Plans for Teachers Illustration

Aztec Lesson Plans
For Teachers

For us, this is a short unit, so we like to keep things simple but colorful. First day of the unit:

DOOR INTO THE CLASSROOM:  Create an entrance to the Aztecs. You might use blue construction paper and cut waves. The city rose from the water, or so it appeared. Rising from the waves, you could position a temple or step pyramid.  Label your doorway:  The Valley of Mexico

Open Class: Meet your class at the door. Say: "Welcome to ancient Mexico!"

  • Quick introduction to the Aztec Indians, something like: About 200 years after the Maya disappeared, a wandering tribe of Indians called the Aztecs settled in ancient Mexico. The Aztec civilization did not last very long. They wandered about the Valley of Mexico for about 200 years. Finally, around 1300 CE, they settled down on the swampy shores of Lake Texcoco. Around 1400 CE, they began to expand. Around 1500 CE, the Spanish conquered the Aztecs. But in a very brief amount of time, the Aztecs, who were feared and hated by other tribes, built an incredible empire. Today, we are going to begin a week of study about these very fierce, very clever, and deeply religious people. As always, we will begin our study with a little geography. After all, you are nowhere without geography.

  • Map lesson: Where is Mexico? Where is Mexico City?

  • Prickly Pear Cactus story

  • Human-Environment Interaction online. After reviewing this page with your kids, to set it to work, say: 

     When the Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico, other tribes were already in residence. They had already taken the best land. The Aztecs had to make due with the swampy shores of Lake Texcoco.  How did they adapt to their environment?

    1. They built canoes, fished, and hunted birds that lived near the water.
    2. They created floating gardens for growing food.
    3. They created more land for agriculture by filling in the marshes.
    4. They built dikes to hold back the water.
  • Transition: Today, Mexico City is sitting on the site of the original Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Mexico City has covered up the lake. All that is left are small pockets of water, and underground waterways.  This has caused Mexico City a lot of problems.  Mexico City today is experiencing the same problems as the ancient Aztecs did long ago. Mexico City is sinking. The city fathers keep shoring it up. No one wants to lose the city. It’s an absolutely beautiful city, rich in history and culture. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at how well the ancient Aztecs got along with their neighbors, the other Indian tribes who lived in ancient Mexico. (That leads you into Journey for a Princess and Aztec government, followed by Daily Life.)

CLOSE CLASS EACH DAY:  We like to close class each day with a sentence or two that reminds students what we are studying. As you know, students can forget what they are studying while they are studying it. With the Aztecs, you might use:  “See you next time, at “The Place of the Prickly Pear Cactus.”  (Tenochtitlan, capital city of the Aztec Empire)

Lesson Plan, The Aztecs Have Found A Home, The Eagle Has Landed

Lesson Plan, The Aztecs, the Mighty Warriors of Mexico

Mexico Lesson Plans (Aztecs)

Mexican Culture Taught Though the Aztec Calendar

Aztec Codex, lesson plan

Rediscovering the Aztec Indians through their art (lesson plans with classroom activities)

Broken Shields/Enduring Culture

Aztec Mythology

Free Presentations in PowerPoint Format - Awesome Aztecs

Interactive Quiz about Awesome Aztecs (with answers)

Review Game to Close Our Unit on the Incas, Mayas, Aztecs: The Game of Skill and Chance (Donn)

For Kids

Place of the Prickly Pear Cactus

Journey of a Princess

Back to Aztec Index for Kids