Topic: Explorers
  • What comes first the desire to explore or the desire to exploit?
  • Were Europeans the first to discover the Americas?
  • How did the conquistadors change the indigenous way of life in the Americas?
  • Is North and South America more advanced because of the explorers?
  • In what ways have Native Americans suffered since the arrival of the Europeans?

Common Core Standards:
WHST.9-10.7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
WHST.9-10.9. Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
RH.9-10.9. Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

Suggested Student Objectives
  • Locate North and South America
  • Examine the reasons for exploration
  • Evaluate the effects of the exploration on the indigenous peoples way of life

  • Map activity: Have students analyze a series of maps in class, first map should show America before the arrival of Europeans, second map the different tribes, third map resources and the last map should show American countries today. Ask questions as students view the maps, for example, how is America different from other continents? What evidence do these maps show us as to how important conquering the American lands were to the explorers? etc... Also have students choose any of the maps analyzed and write a paragraph describing there political and economic significance.

  • A Sailor's Journal: Write a journal as a crewmember of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus. It must be at least 2 pages with 3 or more entries; illustrations may be included.

  • Exploration Rhyme: Write a song or poem on the Age of Exploration. The song or poem must be 3-4 stanzas. Include information about the explorers and the New World.

  • Crossword Puzzle: Design a crossword puzzle that uses 20 vocabulary words about exploration & colonization. Include a list of the words, their definition and a crossword puzzle using the words

  • Chart the Routes: Make a drawing of the map of the world and trace the routes of Vasco da Gama, Magellan, or Christopher Columbus. Label and date the routes, provide a color key , & label the world map. Include a timeline for each voyage.

  • Baseball Card: Prince Henry the Navigatorn Create a baseball card on Prince Henry the Navigator

  • Old World/New World : Create a mural (draw or paint) or collage (pictures pasted) with the Old World (Europe of the 15/16th centuries) on one side and the New World (Americas of the 15/16th centuries). Include a written paragraph explaining your picture choices.

  • Navigation School: You are a student at Prince Henry's school. Research the compass or astrolabe. Make an astrolabe and/or compass from that time period. Include detailed instructions on how it is used. Teach the class how to use it!

  • The Explorer Channel: Create a script for a TV about explorers. Interview at least 3 (three) explorers. Include facts about their journey & achievements. You must provide a written script and you can record your interviews!
  • Draw a Ship Model: Create a drawing of a caravel, one of the early ships of the Age of Exploration. Identify the unique features of the ship.

Activities taken from:

Resource Links
What came to be called America
Name that explorer

Suggested Additional Readings

They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America
They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America

The Four Voyages: Being His Own Log-Book, Letters and Dispatches with Connecting Narratives.. (Penguin Classics)
The Four Voyages: Being His Own Log-Book, Letters and Dispatches with Connecting Narratives.. (Penguin Classics)

Explorers and the New World
Explorers and the New World

Assessments:In one paragraph describe the following for at least four explorers to the new world;
1. Background information (birth, age, etc.)
2. Travels
3. Conquests
4. Achievements
5. Was this persons purpose to explore or exploit?

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