Friday, September 5, 2014

Social Studies Unit 1: Explorers

These first two weeks of school, our Social Studies lessons focused on the early explorers.  Our fifth grade curriculum focuses on U.S. history and geography from explorers to present day.  As a fifth grade, we found around 20 explorers for our students to study.  Each class was given 8 explorers so that we could have groups of 4 students each research an explorer.  Each student group researched their assigned explorer and answered questions about him.  Students then drew and "life sized" explorer character based on paintings and likenesses they found of him.  They added the facts they had discovered around their picture and then hung them in the auditorium to create an Explorer Hall of Fame.

Each class took some time to visit the hall of fame.  Students were expected to find 4 explorers and write down the information they learned from the posters.  Students have a lot of fun learning about the explorers and seeing what all of their peers created.

Students viewing the Hall of Fame

Students pose by their masterpieces

We also learned about the many new plants and food items that the native people had that the explorers didn't know about until coming to the new land.  Students used their sense of smell to discover items like marigolds, corn, vanilla, cocoa, pineapple and many more.  I was quite amazed that students were able to guess the majority of the items just through smell.

Students smelling the New World.

We transitioned into discussion of settlements and colonies by reading this book by Jane Yolen Roanoke: The Lost Colony--An Unsolved Mystery from History

If you teach about early explorers, what are some of the ways you teach them?  We're always looking for new ideas. 


  1. I love this! Do you have any lesson plan resources from this activity available? I would love to do this with my fifth graders!

    1. I don't currently, but I guess I should put one together! ;) We just copied some one page informational pages about several explorers and checked out all the books from our school library about explorers and let the students read and research one explorer per group. I'll add this to my to-do list, but it's totally something you can easily put together.


I love Comments


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...