Mayan Calendar Crafts

pyramid chichen itza side view image by Pierrette Guertin from

The ancient Mayan people created a calendar in the shape of pyramid in what is now Yucatán, Mexico. The ruins of the pyramid still stand. Four stairways, each with 91 steps, lead to the top of the pyramid. Altogether there are 364 steps plus the top platform, which totals 365.

This, of course, is the number of days in a year. Other people adopted the Mayan calendar, including the Aztecs, according to the Web Exhibits educational website. There also are two distinct circular calendars in the Mayan culture that record months, days and seasons. They are called Haab and Tzolkin.

Pyramid Art

Encourage children to draw a Mayan pyramid model, using markers, crayons, coloured pencils, glitter glue pens and art paper. Consult photographs of Mayan pyramids. If the children cannot draw 91 steps, make sure they label the stairs to indicate that there are 91 in each of the four stairways. Label the top platform as the 365th day.

Haab Circular Calendar

Use a white paper plate to make a circular Haab calendar. The Haab is the Mayan's solar calendar. It accounts for 365 days, divided into 18 months of 20 days, plus a final month of only five days.The short month is called Uayeb and is a time of resting, according to the Yucatán Adventure Eco-Cultural Travel Guide website. Consult Haab photos and use them as a model to draw the symbols of the Haab on the paper plate.

Tzolkin Circular Calendar

Trace or draw a circle that takes up most of a piece of sturdy white poster board. Cut it out and use a Tzolkin template, such as the one available on the Vanderbilt University website, to draw Mayan calendar designs. You also can print the template, enlarge it on a copy machine and trace it onto your poster board. Use a paper plate to make a smaller circle that fits inside the larger one. The larger Tzolkin circle features symbols, such as animals, representing 20 major personalities. The smaller circle features the numbers 1 through 13. The numbers represent "tones." Multiplied together, the major personalities and tones represent a calendar of 260 specific days. The combinations are used to figure out the "energy" of a specfic day.