Age of Exploration Unit

Key questions covered by this unit: 

What does it mean to explore?

What does it mean to be an explorer?

What important explorations have taken place throughout history, both before and after the Age of Exploration?

What was the Age of Exploration?

How did the Age of Exploration begin?

How did Europeans view the world before the Age of Exploration?

How did world maps change as a result of the Age of Exploration?

What motivated the European explorers?

What is the meaning of “God, Gold, and Glory?”

What was the idea of mercantilism?

What was it like to be an explorer?

What did explorers need to know before going on an expedition? How did they prepare for expeditions?

What was Prince Henry’s School of Navigation?

How did explorers get royal sponsorships for expeditions?

What challenges, diseases, and trials did the explorers face?

What was the journey to the New World like?

What navigational technology was used by explorers? (caravel, astrolabe, compass, cross-staff, sextant, hourglass, chip log, lead line)

What is cartography?

How were maps made during the Age of Exploration?

Who were the key explorers? (Christopher Columbus, Hernando de Soto, Ferdinand Magellan, Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Juan Ponce de Leon, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot, Henry Hudson, Bartholomew Dias, Vasco da Gama, Giovanni de Verrazano, Jacques Cartier, Roberto LaSalle)

What was the Northwest Passage?

What was the Columbian Exchange?

What did explorers discover in the New World?

What did explorers bring to the New World?

How did the Age of Exploration impact Native Americans?  

Every single day’s detailed lesson plan includes:

  • Key question(s) addressed by that day’s lesson

  • Materials that need to be gathered prior to the lesson
  • Connection activity, video, or discussion to activate prior knowledge and/or engage students before beginning the lesson
  • Detailed description of what to say and instruct students to do during the lesson
  • Ideas for enrichment to extend the lesson for students needing/wanting a challenge or if you have additional time leftover in class or at the end of the unit
  • Ideas for informal assessments to monitor your students
  • Ideas for formal assessments to gauge your students’ understanding
  • Ready to print! This detailed plan is ready to sit on the corner of your desk for anyone who wants to know what your plan for the day is to read!

Leveled Texts

There are two volumes of MANY differentiated texts for you to use with your students during these lessons. You can also use these leveled texts during guided reading groups within your reading or ELA block as reinforcement of the concepts that are taught. They are perfect for easy integration!

Activity Sheets, Handouts, Center Rotations, Visual Display

All of the lesson plans are written to make this content engaging and exciting for students. Every activity sheet or handout you need to teach this content is included in the unit. In addition to activity sheets, there is also a set of center rotations, a visual display activity, and several partner/group activities included to keep students active and engaged.

Student Organization Throughout the Unit

It is recommended that students collect all activity sheets, handouts, passages, etc. in one place throughout the course of this unit. You may choose to have them glue/tape/staple their work into a Social Studies interactive notebook or collect them all in a designated folder or section within a binder. Whatever you choose to have students do, keeping everything in one place will make it much easier to review at the end of the unit.

At the end of most lessons, you will find a “Key Teaching Point.” It is recommended that you designate a place for students to record these key ideas throughout the unit so that they may refer back to them. These teaching points represent the focus of the lesson that students should grasp by the end of the class period.

Editable Rubrics for Assessment

For each of the above activity sheets and assignments mentioned, there are rubrics included that you can use to assess your students. Additionally, there are editable versions of the rubrics, study guide, and final assessment included. This will allow you to adjust them to fit your needs.

Before giving grades, be sure to share the rubrics with your students to make them aware of what is expected of them.

Study Guide and Final Assessment

Included are a study guide and a final assessment that address all of the key questions that are covered by this unit. There is an editable version of both documents included in the “Editable Documents” file. You can access this file through the Unit PDF you downloaded when you purchased this unit plan.

The final assessment is very comprehensive. This is purposeful – it allows you to alter and modify it to best fit your students’ needs.