These activities were created as a result of my annual teacher trip to the Maya area by Abigail Griffiths (St. Margaret’s Preparatory School, Essex) and Tizzy McManus (Doddiscombsleigh Primary School, Devon).
Make your own:
Make your own Worry Doll
Worry dolls (Muñeca quitapena in Spanish) are small hand-made dolls from Guatemala where they are given to children. Children will tell their doll about their griefs, fears or worries, then put the doll under their pillow for the night and sleep over it. It is said that the doll will take away all sorrows.
What you will need:
• A strip of stiff cardboard approximately 5 cms in length and 1 cm wide for the body
• A 4cm long piece of wire (you could use part of a paper clip) for the arms
• A small ball of cotton wool
• Felt tip pen
• Embroidery/sewing thread
• 3 colourful scraps of fabric
• Needle and thread (optional)
• A small piece of bandage or gauze from a first aid kit
1. To make the head, fill the piece of bandage with cotton wool until you have a ball/head shape about the size of a small grape
2. Push 1 cm of the card body into the head and glue the head so that the cotton wool is covered
3. Bend the wire into a “u” shape for the arms
4. Stick the “u” shape to the back of the card body
5. Wrap embroidery thread around the neck and arms several times to hold in place and then glue down.
6. With a felt tip, draw on eyes and a mouth, or stitch them on if you can sew.
7. Wrap a scrap of fabric around the top of the body and leave the arms exposed and glue down.
8. Wrap a scrap of fabric around the bottom half as a skirt and glue down.
9. Make a pointy tube of fabric around the head as a headscarf and stick in place.
10. Fold the headscarf down and stick in place.
11. Twist together 3 embroidery threads 4 cms long and wrap around the head scarf!
Well done; you have made a Maya Worry Doll!
The Maya believe that if they whisper a worry to a Worry Doll and then place it under their pillow before bed, by the morning, the worry will have disappeared!
Look at these from Year 6 at Lomeshaye Junior School, Lancs – very impressive!
Make your own Maya Chatterbox!
What you will need:
1. Print and cut out the chatterbox.
2. Fold and unfold the chatterbox along all four lines of symmetry. The creases will form a “star” in the middle.
3. Place on a flat surface, the blank side facing up and fold all four corners. Fold each corner into the centre of the “star”.
4. Turn the chatterbox over. Fold each corner into the centre of the “star”.
5. Fold the chatterbox in half – so facing outwards are four square flaps.
6. Insert your thumbs and index fingers under the flaps. As you pinch your fingers together, the chatterbox will take shape.
7. Several other sets of instructions can be found on the internet, including pictures, diagrams, movie clips and written instructions – just Google “fortune teller instructions” or ask a friend or adult.
Maya Snakes and Ladders Boardgame
What you will need:
1. Print out and colour the 2 boardgame pages
2. This game can be played with 1,2,3 or 4 players! To play alone, simply time yourself from the start and see how quickly you can find the lost city. Then play again and see if you can beat your previous time.
3. To play with 2 or more players, use a counter or a rubber for each player.
4. Place the counters on the “Start” square. Your aim is to get to the end of the game and find the lost Maya city before your opponent does.
5. Roll the dice and move your counter. If you land on a vine, follow the direction of the arrows and move up the vine.
6. If you land on a snake’s mouth, follow the direction of the arrows and move back down the snake, until you reach the tail.
7. If you land on a square with instructions, then simply follow the instructions!
Good luck and have fun!
Make your own Maya Death Mask
What you will need:
- Mask template – Click here to print template
- Stiff card
- Tissue paper – white, light green, dark green
- Kitchen paper
- Glue stick
- PVA glue
- Paint brush
- Sticky tape
- Acrylic paint – white and black
1. Stick your mask and nose outline onto a stiff piece of card using a glue stick.
2. Carefully cut out the mask and nose shapes following the outside lines.
3. Fold the nose in half and position on the mask. Fix in place using sticky tape.
4. Scrunch a piece of kitchen paper into a ball and fix underneath the nose using sticky tape to form the bulbous part of the nostrils.
5. Roll short lengths of kitchen paper to form the lips and hold together with small pieces of sticky tape.
6. Fix in place on the mask using sticky tape.
7. Cut the white tissue paper into small squares and stick them onto the mask using a paint brush and PVA glue, being careful not to make the mask too wet. You will be able to push the tissue paper around all the contours using the brush.
8. Leave to dry. This will form a base layer for your mask.
9. Cut the light green tissue paper into small squares and stick them onto the mask using the paint brush and PVA glue. Cover the whole mask. Leave any squares that are overhanging the edge of the mask sticking out as these will be glued down later when the front of the mask is dry.
10. Cut a small amount of the dark green tissue paper into small squares.
11. Stick these squares onto the mask leaving gaps where the light-green colour can still be seen. This replicates the different colours of jade that were used to cover ancient masks.
12. When the front of the mask is dry, turn it over and stick any protruding pieces of tissue paper onto the back of the mask using PVA glue. Allow to dry.
13. Paint the eyes with white acrylic paint and when dry, paint the inside of the eye with black acrylic paint.
14. Your death mask is now complete!
Make your own Maya Headdress
What you will need:
• Tape measure
• PVA glue
• Glue stick
• Masking tape
• Corrugated card (an old cardboard box would be suitable)
• Paper (orange or yellow)
• Two split-pin fasteners
• Cocktail sticks
• Ribbon, buttons, beads or large sequins to decorate
• Craft feathers, a mixture of lengths from 10cm to 30cm
1. Cut a strip of corrugated card 6cm wide and 5cm longer than the circumference of your head to make the headband.
2. Decorate the headband by attaching ribbon pieces, buttons, beads or large sequins with PVA glue. Avoid decorating the overlapping section. Allow glue to dry fully.
3. Overlap the two ends of the headband.
4. Poke split-pin fasteners through the two thicknesses of card, spreading the prongs out on the inside of the band to hold it together.
5. Cut a piece of corrugated card measuring 8xm by 10cm for the front-piece. Now, cut a sheet of orange or yellow paper to the same size (or use white paper and colour it in).
6. Decorate the paper with black splodges to look like jaguar-skin
7. Stick this onto the card using a glue stick.
8. Arrange your five long feathers so that they are evenly spread along the top of the jaguar-skin front-piece.
9. Apply a small amount of glue to the stem of each feather and poke them carefully into the holes of the cardboard. If the stems of the feathers are larger than the holes in the cardboard, trim them so that they fit before applying the glue. To make it easier to attach the feathers, keep the cardboard flat and stick the feathers in horizontally.
10. Turn your jaguar-skin front-piece over so that you can see the reverse side. Take eight shorter feathers and arrange them along the sides.
11. Stick each one to the card using masking-tape.
12. Attach the front-piece to the headband using six cocktail sticks. Cover each cocktail stick in PVA glue. Push each stick half-way into the holes of the cardboard on the base of the front-piece.
13. Now push the remainder of the sticks into the holes of the cardboard of the headband so that both parts are attached. Allow to dry.
14. Your headdress is now ready to wear!