7.7 Latin America

Latin America PowerPoint Presentations

 Conquest 1:
The Age of Exploration
How and why did the Europeans discover the New World?PPT
Conquest 2:
The Explorers
Who were the brave souls who decided to sail off the map? Lets look at the stories of Columbus and Magellan.PPTx
Conquest 3:
Mayan Culture
First thought to be peaceful and Utopian we now know the Mayans were quite the opposite. This presentation explores some of the darker, more realistic sides of their culture. 

 Conquest 4:
The Mayan Collapse
The disappearance of the Mayans is only as great a mystery as it is because of their astounding rise to power. This lecture looks at both.

 Conquest 5:
Aztec Adaptations
Turning a swampy island marsh into one of the largest cities in the world is an incredible feat. Lets see how they did it!PPTx
 Conquest 6:
The Spanish Arrive
When Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico everything changed for the native peoples. Some saw him as their savior from the hated Aztecs. How would the Aztecs respond? PPT 
 Conquest 7:
Inca Mountain Livin'
Swamps are one thing, 13,000 foot high mountains are another. How did the Inca do it? Also, TITICACA. PPT x 
 Conquest 8:
Pizarro and the Inca
What if Cortes had a greedy younger brother who wanted to outdo him in every way? Yeah, that would be Franciso Pizarro. Sorry Incas.

Bonus Level:
 Comparing the Cultures
 This final presentation is largely a review but will also help fill in some gaps. Students, do not take your normal Cornell style notes on this one. Instead use this guide to take you through a comparison of how the three cultures adapted and lived.

Old versions

Maya Lecture Notes    Aztec Lecture Notes    Inca Lecture Notes

Labs and Worksheets


1. Digging for the Truth - The Temple - lead your students on a scripted investigation into a mysteries temple. This is a great introduction to the unit. Here's an optional worksheet you can give them so they can track along with you. 

2. Maya Walkthru - A simple series of comprehension questions based on the graphics in Holt's Medieval to Early modern Times used to introduce or review the Mayans in one day.

3. Maya Culture Shock - Students experience decoding Mayan glyphs and making glyphs of their own.

4. History Mystery: The Mayan Disappearance - a critical thinking based lesson where students make inferences from a series of sources about what may have caused the disappearance of the Classic Maya.

5. Maya DBQ - A higher-level version of the walkthru above. It uses many of the same images but requires students to analyze them in greater depth and use them to support a position.

6. Read 'n Think: Mayan Creation - A short reading activity providing test-practice and an interesting story about the Maya.

7. Explorers & Mayans Strategy Guide - A review activity for the first quiz in the unit covering Explorers and Mayans.

8. Aztec Walkthru - as above but for the Aztecs.

9. Inca Walkthru - as above but for the Inca.

10. Aztec/Inca Culture Shock - Mini-activities on Latin American "writing" systems, the difficulty of language barriers, Inca riddles and the Aztec calendar. In the "writing" lab divide students into 3 groups - one for each of the Latin American peoples. While reading the story aloud the Mayans may write notes using words (since they had a syllabic language), the Aztecs may only draw pictures (pictographic language) and the Inca can only use strings you provide them to tie knots (no written language). They then take a quiz to compare which is most effective. For the language barriers students are assigned a have and a want. They must find their trade partner using only physical communication.

11. Create-a-Codex - a group activity where students do research on a specific Aztec topic and create a 4-5 panel codex to represent their topic.

12. Versus - A 30 minute reading assignment based on Holt's Medieval to Early Modern Times but adaptable to any textbook or article on the topic. Students read assigned passages and are guided through a comparison of Aztec and Inca culture.

13. The Heuxotzinco Codex - a primary-source based lesson where students analyze an Aztec codex made shortly after the conquest. Worksheet 1  Worksheet 2  Answer Key  (adapted from a lesson from the Library of Congress found here.)

14. Weigh the Evidence: Maya - a lesson designed with the Common Core in mind. Students analyze a series of sources and weigh their reliability to help answer the open-ended question "Were the Mayans an advanced civilization?"

15. HA - Inca Origins - Students analyze two accounts of the origins of the Inca to try to determine which is mythical and which is historical. 

16. Inca: Did it Happen? - Students compare primary source, first-hand accounts of the Great Meeting between Atahualpa and Pizarro to the secondary account given in their textbook to determine if the accepted story actually happened. (Adapted from a lesson from the Stanford History Education Group at sheg.stanford.edu.)

17. Latin America: Where Am I? - A multimedia adventure where students have crashed in an unknown empire in Latin America. They must use all they've learned from the unit to find out where they are. Students must analyze locations, buildings and artifacts and provide evidence for their conclusions. Functions similarly to a DBQ but in a way more engaging way. 

Media Guide

The Road to El Dorado

DVDDisneyesque animated movie about two Spaniards who travel to the new world. Some surprisingly good content (moreso than in the Disney films) and a fairly good movie. Typically this unit comes up during testing each year so I show the whole thing. If not, the ball game scene is definitely worth showing on its own.

Time Life: Lost Civilzations

DVDThere are episodes in this collection exploring both the Maya and the Inca. They are easily the two best episodes in the series. While admittedly slow in parts both are fantastic for classroom use if broken up. I show many parts of both episodes.


DVDLargely inappropriate for the classroom but there is a scene where a group of tribal slaves are led through the city on the way to a sacrifice that is simply incredible.

500 Nations

DVDThis is a very good series about the history of native tribes in the western hemisphere. Episode 1 covers the Maya, episode 2 covers the Aztec. Definitely slow at times but works great as a summary piece for each civilization

Mystery of the Maya

DVDArguably the worst IMAX movie ever made but that still leaves it on the "pretty good" list. The problem with this one is the narration which is awful throughout. The visuals, however, are stunning and there is one section on Mayan math that is worth showing even with the narration

Engineering an Empire

DVDWith episodes on both the Maya and Aztec (where's the Inca love?!) you can't go wrong here. Every episode of this series is excellent and these are no different. I would say the Mayan episode is one of the weaker ones but the Aztec is easily among the best.
In Search of History: The Aztec EmpireDVDFairly good documentary with enough reenactments to stay interesting in spurts. There are probably too many talking heads for a full showing but easily broken into chunks to use in lectures.

Unsolved History: Aztec Temple

DVDI was sitting in a hotel room one summer during an education conference and happened to flip to this playing on Discovery. I kid you not it changed my view of history education. It is presented (like all Unsolved History episodes) in an investigative format and this one just goes above and beyond even that. I always show this in full.

NOVA: Secrets of the Lost Empires - Inca

DVDGood documentary that I've shown in full when in a pinch. It is the story of a modern recreation of an Inca rope bridge using Inca techniques and materials.

Simpsons: The Old Man and the C Student

DVDNot much here just a quick joke about Superintendent Chalmer's upcoming vacation to Lake Titicaca.

Animaniacs: Lake Titicaca

DVDWonderful song about Lake Titicaca, perfect for middle school kids.