Spanish and Aztecs | Primary Source Activities



Great way to learn about the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. Encourages students to think like a historian.

This activity works great in the classroom and for distance learning (it’s very adaptable). The files are compatible for simply printing or opening as a Google Doc and using in Google Classroom. Also works with Canvas, Schoology, Blackboard, or any Learning Management System (LMS).

Zero prep! Files are editable, if you desire to make some changes.

Materials include

  1. Primary Source Excerpts: Broken Spears: Aztec Accounts of the Conquest of Mexico
  2. Reading check questions (including historical thinking questions)
  3. Summary and Vocabulary activity sheet
  4. H.I.P.P.O.S. Analysis activity sheet (Historical background, Intended Audience, Purpose, Point of view, Other, So what?)
  5. ANSWER KEY for ALL activities

How to use this activity

Since this activity includes a primary resource and three accompanying activities, it could be difficult to complete it all in one day. However, you could read the primary source (individually or as a class) and discuss. Then, students complete one (maybe two) of the activities. Finally, give the last activity as homework (or do it the second day).

Alternative activity ideas:

  • If distance learning: students read primary source and complete the activities at home (could discuss on Zoom if possible)
  • Read the primary source as a class and then conduct a Socratic Seminar (use the activities as homework)
  • Read the primary source in pairs, then have a round table discussion (student led, but teacher prompts historical thinking questions); do activities in class or as homework
  • Read the primary source for homework, discuss in class; do activities in pairs
  • Students read the primary source and complete activities; in pairs, present H.I.P.P.O.S.
  • Print the pages, annotate the primary source, take notes on the sides, and complete the activities
  • Students find another primary source that discusses the same historical event but is written from a different point of view; discuss (or write an essay)
  • Read primary source, then have a game show where the teacher asks questions (using the accompanying activities) and teams have to race to answer the question (with some modification, could be adapted into a Jeopardy-like game)
  • After completing the primary source and activities, create a simulation so students can understand how the Spanish and Aztecs might have felt during this time period

Students will be able to…

  • Understand the conflicts between the European settlers and Native Americans
  • Understand what happened to the Aztec Empire
  • Think like a historian
  • Read, comprehend, and analyze primary source using textual evidence to support an argument
  • Summarize a primary source
  • Improve their vocabulary

Additional information

Grade Level

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Resource Types

Primary Source Activities, DBQs, Printables


Native Americans


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