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Explorers Theme Page

This "Theme Page" has links to two types of resources related to the study of explorers. Students and teachers will find curricular resources (information, content...) to help them learn about this topic. In addition, there are also links to instructional materials (lesson plans) which will help teachers provide instruction in this theme. Please read our disclaimer.

1492: An Ongoing Voyage
This virtual exhibit from the US Library of Congress addresses the following questions: What was life like in the Western Hemisphere and the Mediterranean before 1492? What spurred European expansion? How did European, African and American peoples react to each other? What were some of the immediate results of these contacts? The exhibit also examines the first sustained contacts between American people and European explorers, conquerors and settlers from 1492 to 1600.

[An] Adventure to the New World
Intermediate students use the Internet to complete an Explorer's Notebook in a simulated voyage to find the North West Passage. This is a two - three week Language Arts and Social Studies unit.

[The] Age of Discovery
Learn the role that the trade in spices had in the development of Western Europe and the conquest/settlement of the New World in this short horticultural article.

[The] Age of Exploration Curriculum Guide
"Teachers can use the curriculum guide in a variety of ways. It is especially appropriate for grades 5, 8, and high school world history and geography. The curriculum weaves together visual images, video, and text, as well as materials that can be downloaded or printed for transparencies, presentations, or reports. It includes lesson plans, vocabulary, links to related web sites, and guides to other reference materials. Teachers planning a field trip to The Mariners' Museum will find the guide valuable for classroom sessions before and after their visit, but it can also stand alone, bringing the Museum's treasures into the classroom." Be sure to check out the section on activities) for a dozen student activities (with teacher guides as well).

Antarctic Explorers
Descriptions of the lives and discoveries of more than 20 Antarctic explorers.

[The] Cabot Dilemma: John Cabot's 1497 Voyage & the Limits of Historiography
This university paper has more information than you would probably want to have on determining Cabot's landfall location; however, it may be useful in helping students to understand the difficulties historians face in interpreting historical data and forming conclusions from them. Note: the text suffers from many grammatical mistakes (possessives). For a similarly detailed, but better developed, site exploring the theories and arguments surrounding Columbus' landing, see [The] Columbus Landfall Homepage.

CanText Library
A collection of the texts from original documents in Canadian Studies categorized chronologically and by period from Nelson Canada. In addition to "European Discoveries", be sure to look in the "New France" section for information on Champlain. s

Columbus and the Age of Discovery
A database of over 1100 text articles from traditional sources of information (e.g., magazines, newspapers) on various encounter/discovery themes.

A comprehensive K-16 curriculum in American History that has within its offerings a teaching unit on "Contact: Europe and America Meet, 1492-1673" at each of the primary, middle, and high school levels.
  • The Primary Unit Separate sets of lessons to help kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 students learn that the word "explorer" has many meanings, that explorers such as Columbus demonstrated particular characteristics, that the European contact with the Indians had positive and negative impacts for all involved, that there were other explorers besides Columbus, and that exploration continues to happen today.
  • The Middle School Unit This lesson plan has a set of resources to assist middle school students to answer two questions: 1) What were the geographic, economic, technological, personal, and political factors between the Crusades and 1492 that caused the Europeans to explore? 2) What were the reasons for and the outcomes of the European explorers between 1492 and 1673.
  • The High School Unit Two lessons to help students understand the geographic, economic, technological, personal, and political factors that existed in the 1490s that induced Europeans to launch voyages of explorations and discovery. Also, students learn that the goals of the exploring countries and how they handled contact with the natives varied.

Discovers Web
A monster meta-list of links to resources on the web dealing with exploration and discovery. The links are organized in a variety of ways, for example by period or by area. There are a number of pages which provide specialized information (e.g., pages on Vikings and Columbus, a list of explorers who died on their trips, links to sites which contain texts from the explorers themselves). Also, there are links to other pages about explorers if you can't find what you're looking for here. A highlight of the site is its alphabetical list of links to well over 200 explorers, each of which leads to some specific information on the particular explorer. That list is so comprehensive that we have refrained from developing links to specific explorers on this CLN page in order to focus our attention on other resources. Don't miss this site!

[The]History of the Spanish Treasure Fleet System
Here's the story of the Spanish treasure fleets, with information on the Spanish ships, gunnery, treasure, and pirates.

This online exhibit from the British Columbia Maritime Museum has descriptions of world exploration, European exploration on the north-west coast, first contact on the north-west coast, and a section on navigation.

Exploration ... The Americas
Here's another metalist but one which focuses on the 'age of exploration' rather than the explorers themselves. Links are categorized as "history" (people, places, events, resources) and "art" (Art and Architecture, Literature and Drama, Music and Dance, Daily Life and Culture). This latter set of resources and the annotations to the links provide unique value to the student/teacher that is missing in other 'exploration' web sites.

Exploration and Settlement: Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage
Memorial University (Newfoundland) offers this series of articles on this region's early explorers. There's information on geographical knowledge and navigation methods at Cabot's time, explorers before Cabot's time (be sure to see the section on the Norse), and Cabot himself.

Description of a card game intended to help middle school students consolidate their knowledge about explorers.

Explore the Explorers Online
This article from Education World offers a variety of tips (with links to appropriate web resources) for teaching a multidisciplinary unit on Exploration.

Explorers of Canada
This index is organized by explorer and targeted to the grade 5 curriculum. You can link to many different Websites on Canadian explorers such as George Vancouver and Captain James Cook.

[The] European Voyages of Exploration: The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries
A set of tutorials from the University of Calgary on 15th and 16th century Spanish and Portuguese explorers (primarily). The content covers background information such as the technical problems and progress of the early explorers, geography, cartography, shipbuilding, navigation, etc rather than the actual voyage or the explorer himself.

[A] History of the Northwest Coast
A collection of excerpts from journals during the European/Indian contact period on the NW Coast.

Kid Info - Explorers
Another metalist of links to sites on explorers, however this one has been designed with kids in mind. There will be considerable overlap with "The Discovers Web" or the "Age of Exploration" (above), but this site's more limited selection might be appealing to students.

Latitude: The Art and Science of Fifteenth-Century Navigation
Articles describing how the knowledge of latitude influenced early explorations, including: Ships, Beacons, Maps, Compass, Science of Sailing, Coastal Navigation, Traditional Astronomy, Math in Maps, Calendars, and more...

Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude
This NOVA site, a companion to a PBS show, describes the history of navigating including how sea travellers determined latitude and how a way was discovered to measure longitude. In addition, students can play a game to determine their longitude and learn more about our current technology - the GPS navigation system.

Pirates, Privateers and Buccaneers Theme Page
Pirates, privateers and buccaneers were a fact of life during the great age of exploration. This CLN Theme Page brings together curricular resources for students and instructional materials for teachers who are interested in learning more about this topic.

Voyage of Exploration: Discovering New Horizons
A platinum ThinkQuest 2000 award winner, this website includes a database of explorers, descriptions of types of navigation as well as sections devoted to Discovering New Horizons and Why Explore? A Teacher's world includes on-line and offline lessons. Over twenty online quizzes are on this site. A flash and html only version is available.

Writings and Re-writings of the Discovery and Conquest of America
These seven teaching units from the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute share the common theme of examining the discovery/conquest of America from the Indians' perspectives. While the focus of study is primarily Latin America, the underlying concepts and structure of the lessons could be used within a Canadian setting.

Who goes there: European Exploration of the New World
Why did explorers from France, England, Spain and Portugal want to explore the world? Find out in this silver Junior Thinkquest award winner. Students can also play some games about explorers.

TrackStar is an online interface which allows instructors to create lessons for students by sequencing existing instructional content in various web sites within a lesson. Students explore one topic at a particular location within one web site then move on to the next topic at another web site. The list of topics remains visible throughout the lesson so that students can remain on track. Explorations of the web sites beyond the designated instructional content are also possible.

This link is to their search page from where a keyword search on "explorers" will produce numerous hits. Caution #1: Many of the web sites that these lessons access may already be on this CLN page - it's the creation of lesson objectives and the sequencing of the tours through the sites that make the lesson potentially useful to your students. Caution #2: The quality of the lessons (e.g., definining objectives, finding web sites, sequencing the tours) will vary widely within the TrackStar collection.

[The] Viking Home Page
A collection of general information about the Vikings - both on the web site itself and as links to other sites. Viking explorers are not dealt with specifically, but there's lots of information about the time period. Topics include: General Viking information, Before the Vikings, Sagas, Eddas & Runes, AEsir, Warfare, and Ships.

Writings and Re-writings of the Discovery and Conquest of America
These seven teaching units from the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute share the common theme of examining the discovery/conquest of America from the Indians' perspectives. While the focus of study is primarily Latin America, the underlying concepts and structure of the lessons could be used within a Canadian setting.

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Note: The sites listed above will serve as a source of curricular content in Explorers. For other resources in Social Studies (e.g., curricular content, lesson plans, and theme pages), click the "previous screen" button below. Or, click here if you wish to return directly to the CLN menu which will give you access to educational resources in all of our subjects.

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