Early Explorers

Early Explorers

Author: Nicole Wohler

5th grade students will work in groups to research specific Early Explorers and create a poster with the results.


5.2     Students trace the routes of early explorers and describe the early explorations of the Americas. 

1. Describe the entrepreneurial characteristics of early explorers (e.g., Christopher Columbus, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado) and the technological developments that made sea exploration by latitude and longitude possible (e.g., compass, sextant,
astrolabe, seaworthy ships, chronometers, gunpowder).

2. Explain the aims, obstacles, and accomplishments of the explorers, sponsors, and leaders of key European expeditions and the reasons Europeans chose to explore and colonize the world (e.g., the Spanish Reconquista, the Protestant Reformation, the Counter Reformation).

3. Trace the routes of the major land explorers of the United States, the distances traveled by explorers, and the Atlantic trade routes that linked Africa, the West Indies, the British colonies, and Europe.

4. Locate on maps of North and South America land claimed by Spain, France, England, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Russia.

This activity is designed to encourage students to find out more about the Early Explorers and the purpose of their exploration. Students will also discover what impact the Explorers had on the native people as well. 

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Day 1 - 45 minute block

As a class, review the final project expectations and the individual roles each person will be responsible for within the group. Students will be in groups of 5 and will be assigned one of the following Early Explorers; Group 1 - Christopher Columbus, Group 2 - Giovanni Caboto, Group 3 - Amerigo Vespucci, Group 4 - Vasco Nunez de Balboa, and Group 5 - Ferdinand Magellan. 

Group members will work together to gather information using computers, textbooks and any other media regarding their explorer, all information will be stored in a Google Doc for easy access. Group members are responsible for maintaining the Google Doc as it is part of the final grade of the assignment. 

The information needed for the assignment is as follows:

  • Name and pictures
  • Introduction and background information
  • Results of Exploration
  • Map of Exploration
  • Summary of findings

Early Explorers

This short video will provide your group with questions that need to be answered based on your research about your groups explorer.

Day 2 - 45 minute block

Using your groups computer begin researching your Explorer and recording your findings in your Google Doc. The link for the Google Doc should be emailed to me by the end of the class period. To assist you with what information to use in your assignment please check the Early Explorers Group Project Outline

If you are not done recording your findings you will need to complete your research for homework, tomorrow you will begin to create your Explorer Chart. 

Below you will find a few Web Resources to start your search, however you may use other websites to find information.

Mr. Nussbaum Explorers





Day 3 - 45 minute block

Today your group will use the information gathered to put together a chart that will be presented to the whole class tomorrow. The chart must include the headings; Introduction and Background, Results of Exploration, Map of Exploration, and Summary. Please be sure to have all the requirements from each section so your group can earn the most points possible. 

Be prepared to present your chart tomorrow in front of the class. Practice what each person will say, do not read directly from the chart the whole time!