Ballgame With Players Wearing Chest Yokes. One Wears Deer Headdress, Justin Kerr no. 1921


The Mesoamerican Ballgame was developed as a culminating project for the 2010 NEH Summer Institute,"Mesoamerican Cultures and Their Histories:Spotlight on Oaxaca." This unit is intended to be used by Spanish or Social Studies students at Branford High School in Branford, CT. The Spanish can be adapted to the proficiency level of a class. Activities 1, 2, 3 and 5 have links to the Spanish version written for Spanish levels 4 or 5. The ballgame unit will be used in conjunction with the Las Artes de Mexico curriculum ( which introduces students to the cultures of Mesoamerica.

Spanish 4 Honors students will research the Mesoamerican Ballgame and present an overview to the Physical Education classes to demonstrate the importance of team sports in the Americas, the religious and social significance of the game and the impact of the ballgame on architecture, sculpture and pottery. The culmination of this project will be Spanish classes playing ball against Physical Education classes.

The Mesoamerican Ballgame represents one of the cultural characteristics that endures throughout Mesoamerica. Variations of the game have been played for over 3000 years and continue to be played today in Mexico as well as in migrant communities in the USA. By studying the Mesoamerican Ballgame, students will increase their appreciation for cultural continuity and the Mesoamerican world view. They will examine the architecture, mythic symbolism, ceremonial pageantry, representational artifacts, rules of the game and equipment. They will explore the concepts of maintaining the cosmic order, conflict resolution, fertility, gambling, rebirth, sacrifice, solar movement, night vs. day, equinoxes, and the underworld as they relate to the ballgame. Students will develop their research skills by examining primary and secondary sources. They will work one on one with the media specialist to expand their research techniques. Spanish students will demonstrate their ability to read, write and speak in Spanish about the Mesoamerican Ballgame.

Essential Questions
How can I understand the cultural characteristics of Mesoamerica by studying the Mesoamerican Ballgame?
How does mythology reflect a culture's core beliefs about it's origin, identity, place in the universe and about natural phenomena?
How do the stories we read help us understand our world?
How can I utilize primary and secondary sources to research ancient civilizations?
How can I critique authentic texts and primary sources to determine how historical events impact the development of civilization?
How can I use the target language to explain how different cultures express, communicate and instill their most important ideas?
What do artifacts tell us about a culture?
How does archaeology help to trace the changes in the development of civilization?
How does a culture change over time?
Why are certain cultural characteristics enduring?
How can we understand a culture by studying art and architecture?