The Aztec: Tenochtitlan

The Aztec: Tenochtitlan

I can describe key aspects of the Aztec civilization including.

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The Aztec: Tenochtitlan

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In this lesson, students learn about the Aztec civilization, specifically their lives and settlement in the great city of Tenochtitlan. Students will see how important the study of ancient civilizations is and make connections to our world today!

Learning Objective

Students will be able to describe Tenochtitlán and the surrounding landscape and use this information to make inferences about the Aztec civilization.


First, discuss with students what they already know about early civilizations. What do they already know about the Aztec civilization? Where do they think Tenochtitlan was located? What can we learn about the way people live in a city? Then show students the location of Tenochtitlan on a map and its location on Lake Texcoco. Explain that this place was chosen because they received a message from the Aztec god, Huitzilopochtli. Have students identify the bodies of water that surrounded the Aztec empire.


Begin by introducing Tenochtitlan. Explain that it was the capital of the Aztec empire and that the population reached up to 200,000. Have students observe and analyze the painting by Diego Rivera. Next, explain that the land presented many challenges, but the Aztecs developed solutions to help with travel and agriculture. Describe their use of canals, causeways, and floating gardens. Have students make an inference. What does this tell us about the Aztec people? Then review the social classes of the Aztec people and ask students to compare this to today’s society. After this, describe the Great Temple at the center of the city including the red and blue shrines. Students then locate the Great Temple and shrines in the two images presented. They can drag the pin to these locations. Next, describe Aztec religion and explain that they regularly made human sacrifices to the gods, believing it was necessary to please them. Check student understanding with true or false questions and briefly go over the fall of Tenochtitlan.


Check student understanding with ten multiple-choice, true or false, and fill-in questions.


Spin the wheel and answer the questions found under the covers.

Teaching tips

Some students may already know more about the human sacrifice portion of the Aztec (thanks to movies, etc.) and it can be quite gruesome and or shocking to students who are unaware of this. It is important to help explain to students why they have to learn about something so confronting. By learning about human history, we are given the choice of what to do in the future.

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