One of the most exciting aspects of the Primary Curriculum is the study of Other Cultures and Traditions. While researching for Leafcutter, I was pleased to discover that the Maya were one of the options for study because the Maya are indigenous to Belize, where Clive Farrell has his Butterfly Ranch and where leafcutter ants may be found. At Clive's Butterfly Farm in Stratford-upon-Avon, you will find a display about Maya culture and a number of Maya artefacts (such as the rabbit in the illustration) to excite your imagination.
In Leafcutter, the central character, Annie, visits Clive's Butterfly Farm and becomes fascinated by the colony of leafcutter ants. Annie's scientific mum is eventually persuaded into allowing her daughter to visit Belize on a World Challenge expedition.
Knowing that chocolate was one of the great gifts of the Maya to the rest of the world, I created a scene in which an old Maya woman gives Annie a cup of chocolate which, mysteriously, shrinks her to the size of an ant so that she is able to enter the Leafcutter colony, or formicary. As Lesley, one of Nicola's friends remarked, "How wonderful to discover that eating chocolate can actually make you shrink!"
The rabbit? Ah … when the Maya look at the moon, they don't see a Man they see a Rabbit! Give it a try. If you focus on the light patches rather than the darker ones a rabbit does occasionally pop out at you! The significance of the rabbit? Well, this is just one of many discovery points for 9- and 10-year-olds.
More about the Maya tomorrow.
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