The Mayan temple

Over the past few months, we have studied several ancient civilizations in our history lessons.  We have covered Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Biblical Patriarchs, Indus Valley, ancient China, Minoans and Mycenaeans and ancient Maya.  The last time we covered ancient history, my son was in the second grade.  The curriculum was much different back  then (easier) as I just covered the basics.   Now, he is twelve years old and in 6th grade, and we have rotated back to cover ancient civilizations again.  This time around,  we are able to discuss things together which makes learning about this period very interesting.   One book I am using, mainly as our read aloud time, is John Haywood’s The Ancient World.  The information is higher than middle school, but the photographs are amazing. 

During the study of the Maya civilization, we constructed an ancient Mayan Temple.  My son and I really enjoyed making it, but it was a lot to do in only one week.  Each layer had to dry before another layer could be added.  Our house is a constant 67 degrees F, and it took a while for the mortar to dry.   The instructions said to use a hair dryer, but that did not work well at all.  Luckily, I used two alternate ways to dry it quickly.  First,  I used my oven and turned it on to the lowest temperature at 170 degrees F and then turned it off when it reached temperature.  Then, I cracked the oven door for a few minutes to bring the temperature down to 100 degrees or so, and carefully put the temple inside the oven. Second, I sat it on the hearth in front of the fire.  Both heating methods dried the mortar quick enough.  Otherwise, I think it would have take us two weeks or more to build.  

We meticulously worked at buidling each level, my job was mixing mortar and spreading it and my son laid the bricks.  I used a minature wheelbarrow and mason’s trowel (cute!) Over the course of five days, we finished building the mini-Mayan temple.  The last part was to attach the stairs.  The temple was made of tiny kiln-fired bricks, but the stairs were made of plastic.   My son did not like the look of the stairs against the temple, and said it made it look like a toy rather than an ancient temple.   So, we left them off.  

The slideshow shows the temple in various stages of construction.  The last two pictures of the temple show it with and without the plastic stairs.  Tell me what you think. 

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Our next project will be constructing a minature Roman Colosseum when we study Ancient Rome in the spring.   

Of course, I am sure I will find something else to write about until then.   I just know I have other things going on in my life other than homeschooling.  Right now that is about the only thing that consumes me.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The Mayan temple

  1. Tammy, that is amazing! You both did such a great job. The look of the completed temple is so professional — I started wondering whether you’d made the bricks yourselves too. Sort of a relief to see it was a kit assembly (you need to sleep too) Hah! I agree w/ your son; I like the look better w/ out the plastic stairs. But am glad you have pix both ways. Another A+ project!

    • Thanks for the nice compliments. Did you really I think I would go that far as to make the bricks? Uh-oh!
      It was easy to make, but so time consuming. I haven’t sat down to stay that focused in a long time.

  2. The stairs look okay in the photo. I can imagine little heads rolling down them when I look at them. Heads might get stuck on one of the layers, if there were no stairs.

    I thought you may have made those bricks yourself like thedailydish thought.

    I wish I had a small wheelbarrow … for racing and stuff.

    • Planetross, have you been to the Chichen Itza in your travels? I hear it is a tough climb up, but I suppose easy (for heads) rolling down.

      Nope, the bricks were pre-fab. I was spared.

      Small wheelbarrow racing…now there’s a post to write about.

  3. Oh, wow, look at that structure! I was just happy helping my 6th grader with his cell project–but now I’m totally jealous! Man, sometimes I wish I was a kid these days.

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