Lesson Plan

Aztecs Find a Home: The Eagle Has Landed

Aztec priest performing the sacrificial offering of a human heart to the war god Huitzilopochtli.
Photo caption

Aztec priest performing the sacrificial offering of a human heart to the war god Huitzilopochtli.

"All about us we saw cities and villages built in the water, their great towers and buildings of masonry rising out of it. . . . When I beheld the scenes around me I thought within myself, this was the garden of the world."

—Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Spanish conquistador

It is said that the Aztecs chose the site of their capital, Tenochtitlan, because of the presence of a bird perched on a cactus and eating a snake. In this lesson, students will learn about that ancient Aztec legend and about how Tenochtitlan became the site of modern-day Mexico City.

Guiding Questions

According to legend, how did the Aztecs choose a site for their capital city?

What were life and culture like for the Aztec people in their capital city, Tenochtitlan?

Learning Objectives

Identify the Aztecs as the builders of a city and civilization in what is now Mexico

Locate the Aztec Empire on a map

Explain the Aztec legend about the founding of the city of Tenochtitlan

State that the modern flag of Mexico has a symbol of an eagle, a cactus, and a snake

Interpret the symbolism contained in other Mexican flags