Monday, October 15, 2012

Exploring the New World!

Look! It's Magellan and Henry Hudson! 

In social studies, we're continuing our exploration of American History. After discussing the Early Native American regions, we jumped into the time period where new cultures met for the first time. Miraculously, my lesson plans happened to coincide with Columbus Day. That was not planned, but very fortunate for our social studies unit. In Missouri, there is little emphasis on early explorers in our grade level expectations. I still felt that it was important that we discuss the impact these men and groups of people had on the world. To do this, the students created Explorer Trading Cards. Now, this is not a revolutionary idea by any means. I found several webquests online to support this idea! In a nutshell, students drew the name of a famous explorer out of a hat .... or ziplock baggie (hat sounds better). Next, we discussed what a trading card was and its features. Then, I sent the students on their merry way to collect research on their explorer. I found SEVERAL websites with information. Here are a few that we used:

Which brings me to this site: All About Explorers. Seriously, click the link! The site is AMAZING. FULL of information, but it's all bogus. It's a website FULL of INCORRECT information. It was created for the sole purpose to teach students (and teachers!!) about the internet. Their "about" section explains it here. Thankfully, during one of my eMINTS sessions last year we talked about this site. In fact, this site tricked me! I thought it was an excellent and student friendly resource. I was wrongo-bongo. I was a little weary when I read that Columbus was born in 1951.... in Australia. Anyway, I show you this site because it's an excellent teaching tool. Thanks to Merrie and eMINTS, I know about it too! 

You can download my lesson plan on Scribd. If the link doesn't work, email me and I'll send you another copy. []

Chapter 3 the Age of Exploration

Vasco da Gama & Cortez

Today, as the project concluded we had some wrapping up to do. I handed back the trading cards and we had a discussion about timelines. The class had to create a human timeline with their explorer. Their goal was to line up in order from earliest explorer to most recent. If you consider the year 1700 recent. :)

Then, The students hung their explorer on our interactive timeline in the hallway. I managed to find a neat ship to hang up too. The kids were disappointed when I said the ship I put in the hallway was fake. Sometimes, their faith in me is incredible!

Come Explore With Us!

Exploration Was Hoppin' in 1450. 
After all of the explorers were hung, we marched back out in the hallway. I asked the simple question, "What did we create?" A student replied, "a TIMELINE!" Ahh yes, little one. Next, I took it a step further and asked, "How did we organize our explorers?" One student said, "Youngest to oldest!" Which brought up a great discussion.... because we had actually organized them by year of exploration. Great moment in timeline discussion!

The front of the trading card had to include their name and illustration. On the back, the students compiled their information and some even included a map! 

Now, we're moving right along into the establishment of colonies and eventually the American Revolution. I've always loved history, but I'm loving it even more now. 

Happy Monday! 


  1. Oh my goodness!!! Where were you last year when I was trying to keep my students awake through the explorers? I was doing handstands and somersaults. This is so simple and what a great way to get them involved with active learning. Thank you so much for sharing this great idea!!
    Theresa Grushkin
    CA School for the Deaf, Fremont

  2. Wow! I LOVE this project you did with your students. Right now I am using the Explorer Simulation (Scholastic) with my students and they are having so much fun being able to actively participate. I want to now incorporate your lesson as well. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing!

    Fifth Grade Wit and

  3. These look awesome! I'm covering these as well...I'm actually teaching in Canada, but I think it's important that they know this information too. Thanks for sharing your plans!

  4. I LOVE this. I was wondering if you remember where you got your ship cutout?


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