For teachers

Why study Aztecs?

Aztecs provides a rare opportunity for your students to study the Spanish Conquest of the Americas (1492-1572) with an authentic exhibition experience, and is especially relevant to Year 8, History in AUSVELS.

A hard copy of the Exhibition Guide booklet is provided for students upon arrival at the museum, but there are many resources on this site to use in classroom activities before and after your visit.

Education resources for Aztecs at Melbourne Museum
Background information about the exhibition
Exhibition introduction Key ideas
Origins Who were the Aztecs and where did they come from?
Pyramid of power The class system in Aztec society
War and conquest How warriors and war served the Aztecs
Growing an empire Agriculture, trade and the tribute system
Living with the gods Beliefs, rituals and human sacrifice
Fall of the Aztec Empire How and why it all ended
Timeline Key events from the Spanish perspective
Teachers’ notes
Using the exhibition to inspire and inform students
Teaching the overview Context for the Aztec story and an approach to studies
Mapping the curriculum Guide based on AUSVELS: Year 8 History Depth Study
Year 8 History activities
Ideas for planning classroom and museum learning experiences
Pre-visit activities To set the context for the museum visit and exhibition experience
Activities during visit To gain knowledge and understanding of Aztec culture, and examine how historians approach their work
Post-visit activities To synthesise, analyse and communicate research and findings from the exhibition experience
Extension activities To extend students’ investigations of colonialism and deepen their thinking by tackling ethical dilemmas relevant to the Aztecs and to Australian Indigenous history
Historical Perspectives
Information and activities for school students

Thinking like historians
Using primary sources
Understanding colonialism

Questions and activities

The Aztec mindset
The Spanish mindset

Summary text with references

Florentine Codex, 1555
Bernal Díaz del Castillo, 1567
William H. Prescott, 1840
Hugh Thomas, 1993
James Boyce, 2013

Background on key history texts, with questions and links to excerpts
Books and online resources Publications, online information, activities and audio materials for deeper study