Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's Not the End of the World! Aztec/Mayan Calendars with 5th Grade

Since we've been hearing a lot about the "End of the World" due to the Mayan calendar, I thought it would be funny to create a project inspired by that particular calendar...close to the date of the end of the world!!!!

Here are the materials you need:

-Round 9" or 10" cardboard circles
-A large bag of foam shapes
-Black Paint
-Gold Paint (this can range in price)

The main idea for the project was to introduce radial symmetry.  I began by showing the students a self-created Powerpoint about the Aztecs and the Mayans.  I explained a little bit about the calendars and planning of the days for planting and rituals.  Next, I focused on the design of the calendar. I showed the students how to create radial symmetry with the cardboard circle by asking them to imagine a pizza with four slices, and each slice of pizza looks exactly the same.  My students have a habit of viewing their projects in one way:  the paper in front of them.  When I show them the circle, I tell them that each way the circle turns, the design would remain the same...making it radial symmetrical.

Now it's time to work with the materials!

I used a pop can box to store the shapes for each table!  Pie tins also work too (I use them at my second school).

Trick: Tell the students to worry about finding the same shape and size, and NOT to worry about color.  They'll be painting over them anyway.

Trick: Have the students draw an "x" on the circle to separate four slices to fill.  This will help the students design their slices to look the same each time they turn the circle.

Make sure to tell the students to cover every nook and cranny with the black paint.  It helps with the last step of the project, which is to cover again with gold!

I have students use just their fingers to rub the gold paint on top of the black paint, giving the project an "ancient artifact" affect to the project.

Heads up...the circles will curl if students put "too much" paint on.  Just letting you know what to expect!

Some students wanted to just fill the entire circle with symmetry instead of filling the middle with a face.

                    Here are some cartoons I shared with my students.  They thought it was funny!


  1. I love this! your lessons are always so creative!

    1. Thank you!!! I need to put more pictures up since the project is still in progress. I was so anxious to post the lesson!

  2. Could you please post a link to the powerpoint you used with this lesson,I would like to try it in my classroom

    1. Once I figure out how to post the Powerpoint, I will let you know! There are some areas of technology I'm still working on :)