How to build an aztec pyramid as a school project

pyramide de chichen itza image by rachid amrous-spleen from

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.

pyramid chichen itza image by Pierrette Guertin from

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.

pyramid chichen itza side view image by Pierrette Guertin from

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.

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.

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.