Mesoamerican Codex Books

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Students will use social studies learning about Ancient Mesoamericans to create a piece of historical art. Students will use visual art as a form of communication.

By Amy Shapley

“I do this lesson with the fifth grade social studies teacher. She helps guide the students into writing outlines from their studies of Ancient Mesoamerican cultures. We use the outlines to write our codices.”
-Amy Shapley

What You Need:

  • Brown paper bags (grocery size, not lunch)
  • Glue
  • Red, black, yellow, white tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Black markers
  • Iron
  • Pages Of Mesoamerican Glyphs

What You Do:

  1. Students will bring in outlines on Ancient Mesoamerican life from social studies.
  2. Discuss books and how they give us information about our history.
  3. Present history of Codex books.
  4. Discuss use of symbols as a language.
  5. Practice making ancient glyphs on scratch paper.
  6. Cut two strips of equal length and width out of the NON seamed half of the paper bag. Crumple paper strips and un-crumple several times. Be careful when un-crumpling as to not rip the paper edges.
  7. Iron crumpled strips to give distressed leather look.
  8. Glue ends together to make one long strip.
  9. Allow to dry.
  10. Fan fold into four sections.
  11. Use a pencil and/or marker to write three sentences from the outline to tell the history of an Mesoamerica part of life (family, hunt, food, etc.)
  12. Decorate the book with Mesoamerican glyphs and designs in paint in the traditional Mesoamerican colors.


Mystery of the Maya