Aztecs Lesson for Kids: History & Facts

Instructor: Amy Kasten

Amy has taught middle school social studies and language arts and is currently working on her doctorate in instructional technology.

The Aztecs were people who lived in Mexico long ago. Learn about the great city they built in the middle of a lake, their warriors, their religion, how they farmed food in water, and more interesting facts about this ancient group of people!

Aztec City of Tenochtitlán

Imagine you are catching frogs in a swamp. Suddenly, you see a huge eagle eating a snake on top of a cactus plant! An amazing sight now, but if you were an Aztec, you might think the eagle was a sign from your gods.

In fact, that's exactly how the Aztec's biggest city, Tenochtitlán, came to be! Legend has it that the Aztec people who were living in what is now Mexico saw just a sight and built their great city of Tenochtitlán in the middle of the lake where they saw the eagle, Lake Texcoco.

Warriors and Chinampas

The Aztecs lived a long time ago. When they came to Mexico, they were living as nomads, people who moved around all the time and lived on the road. But about 1320 AD, they settled down near to where they would build Tenochtitlán. The city was named after the name they gave themselves, Tenochca. At its height, the city was home to more than 200,000 people!

Pretty quickly, their civilization grew because their huge army of warriors conquered other groups of people in nearby areas. There were many classes in Aztec society. Classes included nobles and warriors, common people, serfs (people who worked for nothing) and slaves.

Eventually, Tenochtitlán grew so big, the Aztecs ran out of space to farm. To solve this problem, they built chinampas, island gardens, by piling mud and weeds on top of each other in the middle of Lake Texcoco. These chinampas made it possible for the Aztecs to grow corn and other crops to feed the people.

The chinampas built by the Aztec to are still used for farming in Central Mexico today.
chinampas

Aztec Culture

If you were an Aztec child, you might've dreamed of becoming an an eagle warrior, the most respected of all the levels of warriors! Children started going to school, which was divided by age and gender, at six years old. Only men could hold government and religious jobs, though, leaving women to raise families and weave material for clothes.

Different levels of warriors earned different head dresses, costumes and weapons. The highest, the eagle warriors, had the most elaborate.
Aztec Warrior Dress

The most popular sport for Aztecs was called ulama. The game was so important, a ulama court was the second thing to be built in a new city, after a temple. In ulama, players would try to hit a rubber ball through a stone ring using their bodies but not their hands.

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