Students will gain a clear understanding of European exploration in the “new world” beginning in the 1400’s. They will learn about the accomplishments each explorer made as well as some interesting facts about their voyages. Hopefully, the students will be fascinated about this period in history and can use this information as a basis for the settling of America by non-native people. Having each student write a paragraph of information on one country’s exploration ties social studies into a Houghton Mifflin writing component.
There will be several class discussions previous to this lesson which will help the students understand the reasons for exploration, technology of that time period (including ships, weapons used, navigation), and beliefs about the world at that time. Students will also have had several experiences in how to take notes. They will already know the main elements of factual paragraph writing.
In each group of 4, students will individually fill out a note-taking guide using the information in Chapter 5 of the social studies book. They will discuss what they find with their group as they are filling out the chart. This will help the students who are having trouble. The next step will be to trace each explorer’s route on their individual maps using different colored pencils. The information is taken from their charts. Now they will be able to see all of the routes on one map. They will need to make a key matching up the colors with the explorer and add a compass rose.
Each student in each group will choose one of the main countries (Portugal, Spain, France, England) to write a paragraph of information about the explorers, year, accomplishments, and interesting facts about the country they choose. All countries need to be covered in each group.