How to build an aztec pyramid as a school project

Written by elizabeth stephens
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How to build an aztec pyramid as a school project
Study the ancient Aztec pyramid and build your own model. (pyramide de chichen itza image by rachid amrous-spleen from Fotolia.com)

The Aztec are famous in the history of Mesoamerica for being great warriors. They conquered much of what is now Mexico and Central America, and many of their conquered captives were sacrificed to the bloodthirsty Aztec gods atop their massive pyramid temples. Their religious practices and striking architecture make the Aztecs a great culture to examine in social studies classes at all grade levels. With a little creativity, it's possible to re-create a model of one of the famous pyramids, whether for a school assignment or a history fair project. Relive some of the grandeur and terror of the Aztec empire.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Four flat cardboard boxes in different sizes
  • Small cardboard box (like a jewellery or watch box)
  • Glue
  • Poster board
  • Box cutter
  • Tan or grey paint
  • Paintbrushes (large and small)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Create a foundation and build up in steps. Aztec pyramids are made of stacked squares that get smaller as they go up. Choose your largest box, use your box cutter to cut it square, and then repeat until you have a least four layers. Glue these together.

    How to build an aztec pyramid as a school project
    Start from the bottom and build up in steps. (pyramid chichen itza image by Pierrette Guertin from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Make your steps. Aztec pyramids have dramatic staircases on all four sides, so use your poster board to create these. Cut a strip of poster board about three inches wide and create a staircase by folding it back and forth, like an accordion. Trim the staircase so that it fits from the top to the bottom of your pyramid exactly. Repeat four times until you have a staircase for each side. Glue these in the centre of each side of the pyramid, extending down to the ground.

    How to build an aztec pyramid as a school project
    Build dramatic staircases by folding poster board. (pyramid chichen itza side view image by Pierrette Guertin from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Add details. Glue your smallest box to the top to create the temple sanctum. Use strips of poster board to add railing to the sides of your staircases.

  4. 4

    Paint the entire pyramid a solid tan or grey. Aztec pyramids are made of stone, so add as much or as little detail as you like to emphasise this. Use darker paint to add a door on each side of the smallest box at the top to create the illusion of inner space. You can add red paint spilling out of the temple and down the pyramid's steps if you like.

Tips and warnings

  • If it is too difficult to find enough flat boxes to create your pyramid, use blocks of wood. You can request that the person helping you at your local home improvement store cut them in the correct sizes to create your pyramid.
  • Add sphagnum moss or dabs of green paint to create a jungle feel that will show your understanding of the climate that the Aztecs lived in.

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