Upton pupils explore the mysteries of the Ancient Mayan civilisation

Mayan mask-making

The mysterious and magnificent Mayan civilisation is being explored by children at Upton Junior School in Broadstairs.

Children from Year 5 are investigating the rise and fall of one of history’s greatest cultures that arose in what is now known as Central America around 1800BC and progressed through centuries before suddenly disappearing in 900AD at the height of its development.

Pupils began their pathway to the Mayans with an introductory non-uniform ‘wow day’ to outline the various aspects of the ancient civilisation they will be studying in the coming weeks.

A range of activities included making Maya face masks and wearing face paints to show tribal markings; using the Maya number system to solve problems; learning about the indigenous game Pok-A-Tok and then playing it; listening to Mayan music and then creating their own in a similar style using similar modern-day instruments.

A Mayan tomb was created in one of the classrooms and it contained artefacts on loan from a museum that inspired pupils to complete observational drawings.

Assistant Head Teacher Gemma Scarr said: “It was a day full of awe and wonder and a great way to start off the topic that will reveal so much about the culture of such a fascinating civilisation.

“We will look in depth at the history of the Maya, their beliefs, hierarchies and gods. We will also have a Geography focus based on where they were from and comparing the geographical location in the present to our local area. We will also be making our own Maya worry dolls in Design and Technology.

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“The story of the Maya and how they developed a most sophisticated and highly developed writing system in the pre-Columbian Americas as well as their art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system is fascinating.

“How such a magnificent culture with developed cities came to a sudden decline is one of the mysteries we will be seeking to unravel.”