The following are some of the activities in which the students will participate to meet the goals and objectives of this unit. The activities are written in chronological order and are based, as a point of departure, on the legend “The boy who cried tears of Jade” (Madrigal, 1997). On the first day that the unit is started I will read aloud the story and introduce some of the background and vocabulary which we will be using. Our journey will begin by locating on a map the setting in which the legend takes place: Tikal, Guatemala. It will be necessary to show a map of the world, to find where we are in relation to Mesoamerica, the part of the world where we will be traveling to as we study the Maya and we will zoom in to that part of the world where the story takes place.
This story is filled with many elements of Maya traditions and its history. It goes to explain how the gods made man from maize (introduce the hieroglyphic for maize) and how the first medicine woman originated when Ixchel, the goddess of the moon and medicine, came down to earth and took the first woman to the sky to teach her how to cure its people. The protagonist of the story, Mayel, was born under the Ixchel sign and when she turns twelve joins her grandmother to become a medicine woman. Her grandmother, Itza, makes her a figurine of clay and places two chips of jade as eyes. Then, she bakes it by placing it on an open fire. Mayel names the figurine Balam,”sacred jaguar”, when it comes to life after she leaves him outside on a rainy night. The story describes how when the boy discovers pain and begins to cry, his tears turn into jade. The people of that time sought jade to offer to the mighty rulers and the gods so Itza makes a necklace, wraps it on maize husks, and when the time comes to give the offerings places it in the ruler traders hands. The story describes the types of offerings that people made to the rulers: flowers, medicinal herbs and teas, seeds, fine weavings and feathers. The rulers, in their greed, search for the medicine woman and emprison Balam to make him give more jewels of jade. Itza, prays to the nine lords of the night to help rescue Balam who appear in their dreams and ask her to create a potion that Balam is to drink when the moon is full. After he takes the potion a loud roar is heard and when the captors open the cell, where Balam, is held to see what is was, they encounter an enormous jaguar with eyes as green as the forest green. Since that time Itza and Mayel here the roar of the forest lord of the night, the jaguar, in the safety of the forest, its new domain.
Once I read the story we will talk about it and about the acomplishments of the Maya people. I will discuss how they used a different type of writing, hieroglyphics, that has been handed to us via their depictions and carvings in objects such as monuments, vases, stelae, and other artifacts. This background knowledge will be necessary to provide the students with some of the informaton that will allow the children to begin to understand Maya culture. I will introduce what a timeline is and place in it some of the dates previously discussed: birth of Christ, the founding of the city of New Haven, the year the students were born, and the year that the children entered the grade level in which this unit is being implemented. Following the placement of these events I will place lines that represent the preclassic period (2000 BC- 250 AD), classic period (250-900), and postclassic period (950-1500) as time periods that divide the significant events that ocurred in the Maya civilization. At this point, I will discuss how Maya people are the most numerous group of native Americans that still maintain alive much of their heritage and culture.
I will follow by showing the students a few pictures of some of the objects where the writing is depicted and will hand out a few hieroglyphics that directly relate to the story. For this purpose I would introduce balam (jaguar), yax (green/blue ), na (house), chan (sky), k’in (sun), and witz (mountain). I will also put them on the overhead projector and we will begin to describe them. I will let the students know that we will be learning to write our birthdates using hieroglyphics, how we will be studying and creating different types of vases using clay where we will depict some part of our lives, how we will create a mural enlarging a hieroglyphic (see appendix C), and we will create a replica of a ancient monument using the milk cartons from our breakfast and lunches as we study the Maya.
Map reading. Students locate in a map of the Americas the areas of Maya influence. Understand and are able to differentiate between land mass, rivers, lakes, and oceans. (see performance task 1.)
Symbolic writing. Students read and make use five of the most common hieroglyphics relating to numbers (specially the zero), cardinal points and colors associated with them, and animals such as the jaguar. The students will use these to sort, create repetitive and growing patterns, counting, and make graphs (see performance task 2.)
Mosaics and murals. Students study different murals in architectural monuments, mosaics, and pictorial representations in vessels to create their own historical depiction of personal experiences for future generations (see performance task 3.)
Building materials. Students experiment with different building and construction materials such as various clays, soapstone (as a jade and limestone substitutes), and wood to create art works (see performance task 4.)
Building techniques. Students learn about different painting, hand building, and carving techniques similar to the ones used by Maya scribes and artists to create works of art using different materials (See performance task 5.)
Story telling. Students write in their own words narratives that relate events in their lives as a precursor to artistic representations of such events (see performance task 6.)
Making a headress piece for Halloween parade celebration.