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History’s Mysteries

The Maya and Lost Legends

The Maya were one of the most prominent indigenous groups in Mesoamerica, stretching from southeastern Mexico all the way through what is now Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. What can their temples, stone carvings, and even recipes teach us about how they lived?

Much of what we know about early Maya civilization today comes through the architectural and artistic relics that have survived thousands of years. Today, we’re going to the Americas to understand one of the most powerful and influential ancient societies in the region.



Ask About Today

If you were an ancient Maya (living 1,000 years ago), what do you think you would like most about your life? What do you think would be most challenging?

Dinner Discussion

Create Maya glyphs for the whole family over dinner: What would each person's look like? Talk about the details and how the glyph reflects pieces of each family member.

Skip the Ads

Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.


30-60 minutes

These videos and virtual tours will take you inside ancient Maya civilization.


Virtual Field Trip

Start with this video from Virtual Field Trips to learn about the many contributions Maya civilization made in art, astronomy, mathematics, and more.


Explore the Maya World

Journey deep into the Maya world with Google Arts and Culture to view photos and explore ancient artwork, architecture, rituals and more.


The History of Chocolate

The Mayans perfected the art of making chocolate - and they especially liked to drink it. But would you add chili pepper to your chocolate? They did!


30-45 minutes

The Maya kings often used art to help them commemorate (or remember) important events in their lives. Not a bad idea, right?


Maya Math

The Maya developed a numerical system that allowed them to express very large numbers and perform complex calculations using only three symbols to represent numbers. In their system, a dot represents 1, a bar represents 5, and a shell represents 0. Here are the numbers from 0 to 19.

Ready for Maya math? Spend some time practicing your basic number skills—five practice rounds will teach you all the rules of Maya math. When you know the rules, move on to the math game.


Make a Mayan Glyph

The Maya writing system used about 700 different symbols or "glyphs." Learn more about them with DK Find Out, then try making your own! Can you make a glyph to represent each person in your family? Your city or town? Your pets?


30-45 minutes

Get ready for a workout, ancient Maya style.


Climb Kukulkan

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The Maya built many temples, but the most famous one is the Temple of Kukulkan, or El Castillo, located in Chichen Itza. It has 365 total steps, which matches the number of days in a year. To find out how it would feel to climb to the very top of the Temple of Kukulkan, start by watching this video to learn about the structure, then find some stairs and see if you can go up and down 365 times. (Don’t have stairs? Try 365 high knees instead!)