By New York Times Best-Selling Author J. C. CERVANTES

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By New York Times Best-Selling AuthorJ. C. CERVANTES@READRIORDAN

MEET THE MAYAThe ancient Maya were a sophisticated society, developing, among other things, astronomy, calendricalsystems, the concept of zero, and hieroglyphic writing. They were also noted for elaborate and highly decoratedceremonial architecture, all built without metal tools. Their farmers were expert and innovative, problemsolving water shortages by building sizeable underground reservoirs for the storage of rainwater. The Mayawere equally skilled at crafts—they created intricate weaving and pottery, which they traded with distantpeoples by clearing routes through jungles and swamps.Do you even have enough brain space to absorb yet another new pantheon of outrageous gods? You might nothave a choice . . . with the Storm Runner series arriving, it’s time to meet the Maya.DECORpreparation has changed significantly over time,To prepare for your event, introduce the atmospheretoday, thanks to the Maya, chocolate (served both hotof Maya landscapes and lush rain forests into yourand cold) is beloved around the world. Other staplesspace. Using butcher paper, create backdrops of rainof the Maya diet were corn products, beans, avocados,forests with tropical birds and flowers, or mountainand lush fruits, so there is a wide variety to entice yourranges with volcanoes or cave openings to getpartygoers with. Consider offering treats such as:attendees into the spirit of the journey Zane Obispoand his friends take in the Storm Runner series. Add A chocolate dipping fountain (EVERYTHING isto the scene with outlines of such Maya treasuresbetter with chocolate!) or a hot-chocolate bar withsuch as the temples at Chichén Itzá or those in Tulum.toppingsRemember, balance the natural earth tones withcolors as vibrant as this Maya mythology. Fresh berries, melons, and other fruits, includingbananas) Popcorn or a sweet-and-salty sample bar (a mix ofFOODSmilk and dark chocolates and flavored popcorns)Building a civilization (or being the gods worshipped Guacamole, salsa, corn relish, and corn chipsby it!) in the hot and steamy climates of Mesoamerica Frosted sugar cookies in the shape of flowers,is hard work, and refreshments are needed! Alongwith countless other contributions, the Maya helpedthe world discover the riches of cacao. Though itstoucans, or jaguars

CRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES TO GET THE PARTY STARTED!beautifully decorated in these patterns. Readers canThe following crafts and activities will put your party-make their own intricate mosaic masks in the style ofgoers into a Maya-inspired spirit!the ancient Maya. Begin by sharing some mosaic andmask examples (images can easily be found online);GETTING CRAFTYthen have participants draw and cut out a maskThe Maya produced some of the finest art fromshape—with eyes, mouth, and nose openings—onMesoamerica. They used a variety of materials, suchan 8″ x 10″ piece of construction paper, oak tag, oras stone, wood, ceramics, and bone to decorate theircardboard. Next, cut out tissue paper “tiles,” each nobuildings and to make objects that were either sacredlarger than an inch square. Then demonstrate how toor served specific functions. To get readers excitedglue the tiles one at a time next to each other on theabout the Storm Runner series and their introductionmask. Once the glue is dry, invite participants to tryto Maya myths, consider the following craft projectson their masks.or stations for your event:MAYA POTTERYMAGNIFICENT MAYA MOSAICSThe Maya were known for sand-colored pots madeOffer attendees a chance to create their own portraitfrom Yucatán Peninsula clay. Begin by sharing imagesusing plastic tiles or small pieces of colored paper.of Maya pots that have survived. Next, give eachBegin by having sheets of construction paper,participant an easy-to-use and fast-hardening clay.pencils, and small handheld mirrors available.Have them sculpt a small pot with their hands. ShowRemind readers that creating a perfect likeness isn’tthem Maya examples where the exterior of the pot isnecessary—the focus should be on using the coloredpainted with traditional designs. Discuss the colorstiles or paper to create a unique look that capturesthey see most commonly (reds, blues, and yellows)their individual spirit.and encourage them to create their own designs onthe pot.HIEROGLYPH RUBBING OR GYLPH CREATIONSThe Maya developed one of the most comprehensivehieroglyphic systems in the Americas. Use card stockto create picture messages for readers to discoverand interpret. Tape cutouts of card stock on a wallto create a raised surface that participants can makea rubbing of by placing a piece of paper over thehieroglyph and rolling a crayon over it. Partygoerscan then make predictions of what they believe themessage states. Alternatively, using web resources,help readers create basic hieroglyphs of their own thatMAYA MASKSare similar in style and design to those created by theThe ancient Maya made exquisite masks from stone,Maya.wood, gold, obsidian, and shell. These masks oftencontained many pieces of jade arranged in mosaicpatterns. Maya royalty also had personal items

MACAW HEADDRESS PARADEThe Maya associated macaws with the sun godbecause of their vibrantly colored feathers. Rulersand high priests were often depicted in hieroglyphswearing a macaw headdress. Be sure to have imagesavailable to offer context and provide inspiration.Invite participants to make their own colorful royalheaddress with craft feathers and poster board.Readers can also draw the face and beak of the macawand then attach colorful feathers to it. Once theassembly and drying are completed, offer readers achance to adorn themselves with their headdress andmodel their work for those gathered.AMAZING ANIMAL PENDANTSFor the upper-class and royal Maya, accessorizingwith jewelry was important, and pendants shaped likeanimals were especially popular. In Maya artifacts,images such as macaws, deer, spider monkeys,rattlesnakes, jaguars, turtles, and crocodiles are oftendepicted. Ask readers to select an animal they eithermost appreciate or identify with. Give each readera ball of self-hardening clay to shape into his or herchosen animal. After participants have finished theircraft, ask for volunteers to show off their pendantand offer a brief explanation of why they selected theanimal they did.

MAYA MATCH-UPRead the descriptions below (we have provided hints using the gods you already know, love, andloathe) and then draw a line to the name of the correct Maya god.1. The skeletal god of death, aka the Stinking One. Thisgod carries a violent grudge against other gods and isconsumed with the desire to bring about their destruction.You’d think, after centuries of reflection, this guy wouldlearn to let things go, but noooo.ANSWERSIXKIK’(PRONOUNCED SH-KEEK)(HINT: SIMILAR TO THE GREEK TITAN KRONOS AND VILLAINS BEFORE HIM.)2. Goddess of the Blood Moon. Unlike many other divinemoms, this goddess had a direct hand in raising hersons, Jun’ajpu’ (HOON-ah-POOH) and Xb’alamkej(sh-bah-lam-KEH). They grew up to be two of the greatestchampions in Maya history.NAKON(PRONOUNCED NAH-CONE)K’UKUMATZ(PRONOUNCED KOO-KOO-MATS)(HINT: THESE HERO TWINS COULD GIVE ARU SHAH’S PANDAVAS A RUN FORTHEIR MONEY.)3. The god of wind, storm, and fire, and one of the twocreator gods. This god is something of a craftsman.He’s actually responsible for designing the human body,although it did take him four tries before he was satisfied.And because he wasn’t quite happy with tentacles, youhave thumbs!AH-PUCH(PRONOUNCED AH-POOCH)HURAKAN(PRONOUNCED HOOR-AH-KAHN)(HINT: SIMILAR TO HEPHAESTUS ON MOUNT OLYMPUS.)4. The other (some say cooler) creator god. This godshared his valuable knowledge with humans many yearsago before eventually returning to the sea. Please don’ttell Poseidon he’s there—Ol’ Barnacle Beard would losehis mind if he found out an even more powerful god wascurrently residing in his domain.5. The god of war. Big, burly dude who is never seenwithout his leather jacket and motorcycle boots. Loves agood fight and is known to be aggressive toward chosenheroes and demigods. Hey, wait a second . . . Where havewe heard this before?(HINT: HE’S A LOT LIKE ARES.)

ARE THESE STATEMENTS MAYAFACT OR FICTION?1. Nawals are powerful shape-shifters.FACT or FICTION2. Ah-Puch is depicted as incredibly attractive and has legions of godsand mortals hoping to garner affection from him.FACT or FICTION3. Jade is considered an incredibly powerful element in Mayan myths.FACT or FICTION4. The god Hurakan has one human-looking leg while the other is shapedlike a serpent.FACT or FICTION5. The Maya are known for their scientific and mathematical contributions.FACT or FICTION6. Like other world mythologies, Maya mythology offers creation myths.FACT or FICTION7. Ixtab is desribed as wearing a white cape made up of small bones andhemmed with teeth.FACT or FICTION8. In Maya mythology, a god breaking the Sacred Oath is of noconsequence.FACT or FICTION9. Ixtab and Ah-Puch are the best of friends.FACT or FICTION10. The calendar systems developed by the Maya are still influential today.FACT or FICTION1. FACT 2. FICTION Ah-Puch is a stinky, skeletal one. 3. FACT 4. FACT 5. FACT 6. FACT 7. FACT8. FICTION A god breaking the Sacred Oath may be punished by death. 9. FICTION While being held incaptivity, Ixtab has ruled over death. They are definitely enemies. 10. FACT

MATH MATTERS—MAYA STYLEThe Maya were incredibly influential in the areas of math and science, and they createda “vigesimal” math system, with a base of 20. Like our math system, it is positional,meaning the numeric symbol indicates its place in value. The following table illustratesthe place value in its vertical format.

MATH MATTERS—MAYA STYLEWorking either in small groups or independently, use the Maya number chart toidentify each of the following numbers:Without looking at the chart, can you remember how to draw the Maya numericalsymbol for each number?

8. In Maya mythology, a god breaking the Sacred Oath is of no consequence. FACT or FICTION 9. Ixtab and Ah-Puch are the best of friends. FACT or FICTION 10. The calendar systems developed by the Maya are still influential today. FACT or FICTION 1. FACT 2. FICTION Ah-Puch is a stinky, skeletal one. 3. FACT 4. FACT 5. FACT 6. FACT 7. FACT 8.

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