Activities you can do at home

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Some of 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:

• Glue
• Ruler
• Scissors
• 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!

Try it!

Look at these from Year 6 at Lomeshaye Junior School, Lancs – very impressive!



Make your own Maya Chatterbox!


What you will need:

Maya chatterbox template – Click here


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:

Maya Boardgame template –  click here to print page 1 and here to print page 2


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
  • Scissors
  • 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:

• Scissors
• 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!



Make your own Chocolate Pot


What you will need:


  • Clay
  • Rolling pin
  • Piece of cloth, – canvas is ideal – for rolling out clay; using this prevents the clay from sticking to the table
  • Clay cutting knife, pencil, ruler
  • Water and small sponge
  • Paint, brushes, varnish
  • Stripwood guide, 6mm thick – optional





1. Take a ball of clay and make a small pot. Flatten the sides and make a good shape.



2. Roll out some coils of clay and add them to the pot. Smooth the edges. Leave the pot to dry for a bit. Add more coils if you need them and smooth the outside and inside as much as you can.



3. Roll out a long rectangle of clay. You can use the canvas and wood strips as guides.  Cut out the rectangle using a ruler.



4. Try the strip on the top of your pot. If it is too long or too high, then cut it to the right size.



5. Wet the edges of the pot and the rectangle with some water.  Join it to the pot and smooth the join with your fingers.



6. To make the lid – roll out more clay and cut a circle that is slightly larger than the neck of the pot. Cut another small strip.  Make a thick coil of clay for the handle, and bend this into a half circle shape.



7. Join the small strip to the underside of the lid, smoothing all edges; this is to stop the lid from sliding off the top of the pot! Join the thick coil to the top of the lid and trim it to fit.



8. You can now decorate the sides of the pot by drawing into the clay using the pencil or wooden sticks.  Leave to dry for a bit, then neaten edges. Add the glyph for ‘cacao’ on the pot.



9. If using clay, the pot can be fired and then painted, or if using air drying clay, it can be painted when dry. Don’t forget the jaguar pelt markings on the handle!


10. Now it is time to add some chocolate!


Make your own Emblem Glyphs

The Maya had emblem glyphs for their cities, much as sport teams have insignia or badges. They also represented the titles of the rulers of these cities.  Emblem glyphs consist of a central sign that represents the city and then two other signs on the top and the left that are read as divine/holy lord. So together the emblem glyph reads “the divine/holy lord of” and then the city that is mentioned. Why don’t you make an emblem glyph that represents your town/city?



Emblem glyph of the Maya city Quirigua, Guatemala

What you will need:

  • Clay
  • Rolling pin
  • Piece of cloth, – canvas is ideal – for rolling out clay; use this to prevent the clay sticking to the table
  • Clay cutting knife, wood modelling tools if you have them
  • Pencil
  • Water, brush, and small sponge
  • Paint, brushes, varnish
  • Strip wood guides 6mm thick – optional





1. Place the clay on the cloth with the strip wood guides at the sides if you have them. Roll out until clay is flat, turning it several times.


2. Cut out your glyph shapes, one larger than the other. Smooth edges with a damp sponge.


Emblem glyph of the Maya city Quirigua, Guatemala

 Alternatively, if you like, you can draw your design into a flat glyph shaped base with the pencil and modelling tools.



3. Roll balls of clay in your hand– 3 large, 3 medium size and 6 small. Make extras to practice with, they may get squashed into the wrong shapes at first!



4. Model the balls of clay into glyph shapes by gently squashing between your fingers.



5. Wet the base with the brush and some water and then stick the large clay glyph shape onto the base.



6. Then take the smaller glyph shapes and gently press them on, making sure you wet the base to make a good join.



7. With the pencil, draw into the glyph shapes.  Leave glyphs to dry a bit until hard, and then tidy up the edges with a damp sponge and your fingers.


8. If you are using clay, the glyph can be fired and then painted, or if using air drying clay then paint when dry.


A Maya Stela



A stela, or stelae (plural) were carved standing stones depicting rulers and also contained written inscriptions that recorded events in their lives, such as marriage and conquests. Why don’t you make your own showing your achievements?


What you will need:

  • Clay
  • Rolling pin
  • Piece of cloth – canvas is ideal – for rolling out clay; use this to prevent the clay from sticking to the table
  • Clay cutting knife
  • Pencil
  • An assortment of metal and wooden tools to make textures if you have any
  • A piece of rough stone
  • Water and a small sponge
  • Paint, brushes, varnish
  • Stripwood guides, 6mm, optional





  1. Set up your cloth with the wooden guides if you have them, a ruler would be fine too, and place the clay in the middle. Roll out the clay, turning in several times so it makes a round shape.  Cut out a shape for the base; this can be round, square, or any natural shape.



2. To make your stela, take quite a big piece of clay and form it into your stela shape; pat with the wood guides to help get the sides straight and even.



3. When the stela is the size and shape you want, make sure the front is very smooth. Draw a figure into the clay using the pencil. Use any metal or wooden tools to add to the costume and make the glyphs. Leave the base and stela to dry for a bit- until the clay is what is called ‘leather hard’.  If it is too soft then it is hard to tidy up the rough edges.



4. Take the base, and scrape out a shallow area where the stela will stand. Make sure the base of the stela is flat and smooth.



5. Scratch into the base of the stela and where you want to place it on your base, wet these areas with water.



6. Press the stela into the scratched area on the base and make sure it is well fixed and is upright!


7. If using clay, the stela can be fired when completely dry and then painted; if using air drying modelling clay paint the stela when it is dry.




Your Nahual

Both the ancient and highland modern Maya believe they have a spirit/animal companion, the ancient Maya called it Way (pronounced ‘Why’) and the Maya today call it their nahal/nawale. Your birthdate defines what animal/spirit companion you have and tells you your character traits. Their nahuales themselves are the 20 sacred calendar days (the Tzolkin). 


The Tzolkin- Sacred Calendar

Click on the calendar above to find out your nahual.

Look for your birthdate and you will find three words next to it – for example 1 January 2017 – Kawoq – Kawak – Rain, Storm.

The first word is the Mayan word in Kaqchikel (one of the languages spoken today) for the day name/nahual (Kawoq), the second word (Kawak) is the one you are looking for, this is the same word but in the ancient Maya calendar and finally (Rain, Storm) is what you are associated with.

If you want to see the sign for your day just look below – all twenty are listed and you can now draw your own nahual on paper or clay or even make a pendant with your day sign.



Eb – Nahaul/Day Sign

What you will need:

  • Your nahual symbol (see above)
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • A piece of white fabric approximately 10cm x 10cm (for example, a piece of an old sheet or a handkerchief)
  • Two pieces of stiff card – one white and one the colour you would like your frame to be (for example, black)
  • Acrylic paints
  • PVA glue
  • Glue stick
  • Black waterproof marker-pen (eg Sharpie pen)



These instructions are for a small nahual fabric painting.  If you would like to make a larger version, you will need to increase the size of the measurements given below.







  1. Find out your nahual by clicking here and then find the image for your nahual above.



2. Draw a square 8cm x 8cm on a sheet of paper.  Make a pencil copy of your nahual inside this square and then draw over the lines with a black marker-pen.  Stick this to a flat surface with masking tape so that it stays in place.



3. Cut a piece of white fabric 10cm x 10cm and place over the top of your paper design.  Stick this onto the flat surface to hold it in position.



4. Use the black marker-pen to carefully trace the design onto the fabric.


5. Paint your design using acrylic paints, keeping inside the black lines.  Start at the centre of the picture and work outwards.   Wet your paintbrush with water if the paint is too thick to easily apply to the fabric but be careful not to over-dilute it as this may cause your black outline to run.

6. You can also use poster paint, fabric paint or felt tip pens to colour your design.  When complete, put your design to one side and allow to dry.


7. Cut your two pieces of stiff card into squares 13cm x 13cm.  To make the frame, take the coloured piece of card and measure in 2.5cm from each of the four sides making small marks to show this measurement.  Use your marks to draw a square 8cm x 8cm inside your larger square. 

Cut out the inside square to leave a 2.5cm frame by gently folding the larger square in half so that you can make your first cut and then carefully cut along the lines you have drawn.


8. When your painting is dry, use masking tape to stick it to the back of the frame with the painted side showing through.  Now, stick the back piece of card over the reverse of the painting.


9. To enable your painting to stand up, cut two rectangles of card, 5cm x 10cm.  Fold each piece in half lengthways and stick the top two folded pieces together to form a ‘T’ shape.  When dry, stick the top of the ‘T’ shape to the base of your nahual painting on the reverse side.  This will act as a stand for your picture.



Other alternatives:

You could engrave a small square of modelling clay with your nahual design and then pierce a hole through the top. When the clay is dry, you could thread it onto piece of string or cord to make a necklace or bracelet.  Now you have made your own, how about you make one for your friend or family member?

16 Responses to "Activities you can do at home"
  1. samuel caroe says:

    this visit made me want to be an archieolegist!

    • School: great+little shelford primary school
  2. Anonymous says:

    simply brilliant

    • Alistair Poyzer says:

      Thank you for teaching us amazing art. As my friend said It is inspiring. You are ” One of a kind.” THANK YOU! 🙂

      • School: Scargill C of E Primary School
    • Holly White says:

      Thankyou for coming into our school today, it was a pleasure to meet you today, you were an inspiration to me. This was one of the best days of my life. I’m so glad you came into our school today me and my friends really enjoyed today. The best part was also with you, like making the calendars and showing us all the ancient artefacts. If you remember who I am, I am the person who said in the last hour of the day when you had flamingo class, “You really inspired me I hope I can be like you when I’m older”. Thankyou 🙂

      • School: Scargill C of E Primary School
    • Alustai says:

      Thank you for teaching us all about the amazing Mayans!

      • Rosie says:

        Hi i loved it when you came to school

        • School: Scargill
      • Taiya Alcindor says:

        Thank you for coming to my school to teach us about the Maya civilisation. I really enjoyed it and wish you cold come back again. Once again thank you for coming to my school because we learnt alot and got to touch and hold replicas of the real artefacts. I’m also very greatfull that you came and i know that enyone is lucky to meet you. Your an incredible person who knows so much that even in that 2 hours you probably didnt even say everything you know because you know so much. If you come to our school again next year for the next year 6 they will also be lucky to meet someone like you.
        I hope all’s well

        • School: St louis catholic primary school
      • Taiya Alcindor says:

        Thank you for coming to my school to teach us about the Maya civilisation.
        I really enjoyed it and wish you cold come back. I really understood the Maya’s after having a visit from you. Im am very greatfull so once again thank you

        • School: St louis ca
      • Naomi says:

        You came to my school today and I have been changed! I enjoyed it so much and I want to be like you. You also gave us autographs which was very kind. THANK YOU FOR BEING AWESOME!!! 😀

        • School: Not Saying
      • furtdso linopv says:

        Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Excellent blog and great style and design.

        • Chloe logue says:

          Hi Dr Dianne Davies u came to my class I was the girl who said howler monkey at stcatheines school!!!!!! Love the game mask

          Yours sincerely
          Chloe L

            • Diane Davies says:

              Hi Chloe, Thank you! I really enjoyed meeting you all on Thursday, you all knew so much about the Maya – well done! I hope you are enjoying the magical resource book i left for you all 🙂

            • Anonymous says:

              I love the Maya. I KNOW you because you came to my school

                • Ellie-mai says:

                  I had so much fun.It was the best day ever.You are the best arceaolagest ever.When I grow up I am going to be a arkeaolagest amd look for maya things so you are not on your own.Thank you.

                  • School: st thomas more catholic primary school

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