How to make an aztec codex for children

Written by bridgette redman
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How to make an aztec codex for children
Aztec codices depicted elements of ritual and worship such as the masks shown in this photo. (Aztec Masks image by Infs from

The Aztec codices were pictorial books that recorded Aztec life and culture. Some of them included calendars, rituals and ceremonies, daily life, tributes and histories. The early ones had no writing at all and were solely made of painted pictures. Help your child learn about Aztec culture by teaching her to make an Aztec codex for her life.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Beige-coloured construction paper or parchment papers
  • Paint or art chalk
  • Small paintbrushes
  • String

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  1. 1

    Talk to your child about what Aztec codices are. Show him some pictures from such sites as the River Styx, Wikipedia or in an encyclopedia at the library. Ask your child what he would include in a codex about his life. Answers might include a calendar with important dates in his life, a day in his life in pictures, pictures of his favourite books or video games, or a story about an important event in his life.

    How to make an aztec codex for children
    Point out certain images that appear repeatedly and research what they meant to Aztecs. (Mexican art sun image by Jim Mills from
  2. 2

    Give a piece of construction paper to your child and take one for yourself. Ask your child to create a page for her personal codex. Have her pick one of the topics that you discussed when looking at codices. Recommend that she sketch her idea with a pencil first.

    How to make an aztec codex for children
    Choose light-coloured paper with an interesting grain that will hold paint well. (paper samples for business cards image by Adam Radosavljevic from
  3. 3

    Sketch a pictorial representation of your child's entry into your family. It might have several pictures in a comic strip style. Draw a miniature biography of your child's life from your perspective.

  4. 4

    Paint your sketched codex page and ask your child to paint his as well. Let them dry overnight. Create as many more pages as the two of you are interested in doing.

    How to make an aztec codex for children
    Provide a variety of paint brush sizes for an older child or more skilled artist. (paint image by Darren Nickerson from
  5. 5

    Punch a hole in the upper left hand corner of all the dried paintings. Run a string through the hole and tie it together.

Tips and warnings

  • When the codex is done, find somewhere in your house to display it and talk about it.
  • Codices were formatted in different ways. One codex was on a long piece of fig bark folded accordion style. If you would like to create something like this, glue several pieces of construction paper together to form a long strip and then fold it accordion style so that each page is approximately four inches wide.
  • Consider following the Aztec rules for drawing people. They showed the head and feet from the side and the body from the front.

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