Sunday, January 25, 2015


My kids are not big fans of coloring but they love the cutting and the pasting.  This makes History Pockets (and similar) from Evan Moor a great resource.  For their study of Explorers, they used the Explorer's of North America History Pockets and a Explorers Unit from Mrs. O's Rockin Resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.

They spent a few months on this unit, working their way through one explorer at a time.  As they studied each explorer, they would mark his route on a small map, on our big wipe-off map, and locate the explorer on their timelines.  The timeline is from the first pocket in the History Pockets, while the map is from Mrs. O.

The first topic/pocket is "Introduction to the Explorers of North America".   These pockets follow the pattern of most of the other history pockets we've done in the past.  They include a folder heading, a brief synopsis of the topic, a fast facts page, and in this case, a map of the explorer's routes.  There were ten explorers included in the History Pockets, but Jen and the kids learned about a few others.

Mrs. O's unit started with a brief overview of various explorers and a chart to fill out telling where they came from, when they explored, why they wanted to explore, and where they would up.  This unit also included worksheets and tests, so was a nice balance with the craftiness of the History Pockets.  The first test included vocabulary words such as scurvy, navigation, cartographer and saga.

The first explorer was Christopher Columbus.  After reading about Columbus in both the History Pocket synopsis and Mrs. O's, they mapped out his various trips on a world map.  Columbus made four trips in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502 trying to find a shorter path to India.

Mrs. O's unit worksheet asked them to visualize various things they read about, such as the size of the Bahamas.  George completed the sentence "The island was as small as.... a worm". That's a pretty small island.  ;-)

The kids made models of the three ships Columbus sailed using egg cups and toothpicks.

They wrote up a letter applying for a job on one of Columbus's ships:

Vicki wanted to be a musician on a ship:  "Dear Columbus, Im a good singer.  I can sing high.  I can sing low.  From Vicki"

The made a compass and learned about hardtack.

Their next explorer was Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer to sail around the world.  He was not included in the History Pockets.  They read about him in the Mrs. O's unit and answered the worksheet.   One of the questions this time was "Did you know that you can survive on eating rats and sawdust? Explain your thoughts."  George's thoughts were "2 words:  Super.  Gross."

With each explorer they filled out an information sheet (I'm not sure if this was from Mrs. O or another resource) that included information about the explorer and his home country, years of exploration, sponsor, what they hoped to find, how their exploration affected the lives of others, a timeline of important dates, and whether the kids thought the exploration was successful or not.

Here is Vicki's for Ferdinand.

The next explorer was John Cabot.  Cabot, like Columbus, was trying to find Far East.  Instead he landed in Newfoundland and sailed down the coast.

One of the History Pocket assignments for Cabot was to illustrate a shoal.  John Cabot fished for cod in the shallow waters of the coast, called shoals.  Do you think it was George or Vicki who has the shark attacking the ship?  :-)

George's visualization this time "The weather was foul Evil Ghost."
Our next explorer was Hernando Cortes.   After learning about Cortes's quest for Aztec gold, the kids made a sea chest with a list of the things they would want to bring on a voyage.  George's is heavy on the electronics, while Vicki's is heavy on the craft supplies and food.  And that pretty much sums up my kids.  ;-)

Our next explorer, Hernando de Soto was not included in the History Pockets.  Desoto explored the West Indies, helped conquer Peru, and explored Cuba and the southeastern United States.  The worksheets from Mrs. O's ask the kids to infer something from each biography. In this case, they were asked "What makes you think 18,000 ounces of gold was a lot back then?"  George's reply "because it's a lot now!" 
I was curious so I looked it up.  Gold is worth $1292.60 per ounce, so 18,000 ounces is worth $23,266,800.  I'd say that's a lot.
Our next explorer is Jacques Cartier.  Cartier was also trying for a short route to the Indies by finding the Northwest Passage.  (he was unsuccessful).
The kids created their own ship's logs while learning about Cartier.  George's ship was The Ghostly Skull and set sail in 1578, met up with seals, discovered a bug called googli's and named an island after them, and purple apples called plupples.


While Vicki's ship was the Fairies Gust.

They also made up their own version of a board game about Cartier's journey.  George actually received a board game making kit for Christmas because he loves making up his own games.

Cartier wasn't covered by Mrs. O.

Our next explorer, also not covered by Mrs. O, was Sir Frances Drake.  Sir Drake was sent to attack Spanish ships, and sailed through the Strait of Magellan and up to the California coast.  He was the first Englishman to sail around the world.

The kids put together a booklet of weather reports from Cape Horn while learning about Sir Drake.

Next was Henry Hudson.  Hudson was sent by the Dutch East India Company to find a northern route to India. 

They wrote a news article about the mystery of what happened to Henry Hudson....

They also made models of two navigation tools, a parallel ruler and a divider.

Mrs. O did cover Henry Hudson and after reading the article about his life George chose "It was expensive like....a golden pig."

Our next explorer was not included in the History Pockets, Robert LaSalle.  LaSalle did most of his exploration in canoes.  He explored the Great Lakes, the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and established settlements. 

The kids next studied George's favorite explorer of all - Daniel Boone (even if he did insist on pronouncing it Boon - eh for a long time).  Boone helped the English fight in the French and Indian War, he explored Kentucky and became known for his singing.

As part of learning about Boone, the kids wrote their own limericks and a brief legend about Daniel Boone. 

Our next explorer was James Cook.   Cook studied the animals of Tahiti, explored New Zealand and Australia, explored and mapped the Hawaiian Islands, sailed along the coast of Canada and Alaska.  He reached Antarctica on his second journey searching for the Southern Continent.  Since over 400 stamps have been issued worldwide for Cook, one of the assignments the kids had was to design a stamp and write a postcard to a friend.

Next were Louis and Clark.   Lewis and Clark were sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the newly purchased Louisiana Territory.  Lewis kept extensive journals of his exploration, so the kids made a brief journal describing their day.  It's a rough life.

The final explorer was John Wesley Powell.  Powell was the first European to travel through the Grand Canyon so the kids each made their own brochure for the Canyon.  

The final assignments to the Explorers unit were to fill out a Explorer Job Application Form and fill out a reflection sheet.
When George looks through his Explorers book he feels "held back because I can't go outside and explore on my own".   
Vicki enjoyed doing the ships log the most, and what she would do differently is "make everything Pink.  Make the weather clear everyday.  Make James Cook crash with Leif Erickson".  I'm thinking that whole timeline didn't make much of an impact.  :-)

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