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Exploring GraphicAcross the Sea: Europeans Explore the New World

Looking for information and activities about the intrepid adventurers who first voyaged to the New World? Check out these Internet sites and help your students explore the earliest explorers.

The most comprehensive site of all is Discoverer's Web. This site includes original pages and links to worthwhile individual sites and to other large site collections. Original pages include individual sites containing the biographies of explorers such as Henry the Navigator, John Cabot, and Vasco Nuez de Balboa.

Discoverers by Alphabet, an alphabetical listing of hundreds of explorers, includes anecdotal as well as factual information and your students will enjoy the personal insights scattered among the historical facts.


Discoverer's Web also provides links to some worthwhile individual sites:

1492: An Ongoing Voyage
A Library of Congress exhibit that includes information about the exploration of North America. This site provides interesting supplementary material, including the first map of California, the Mexican Calendar, and a world map showing the state of European cartographic knowledge of the world prior to Columbus' 1492 voyage. Just as the voyage to the New World must have been, this site is a little hard to navigate, so students might do better to study the Outline first.

The Mariners' Museum Age of Exploration
An on-line curriculum guide that addresses maritime discovery from ancient times to Captain Cook's 1768 voyage to the South Pacific. The guide contains lesson plans, links to related Web sites, and guides to other reference materials that are appropriate for students in grade 5 and above. Students can explore the site using either the Timeline, which primarily provides biographies of explorers, or the Menu, which includes additional material.

You'll also find links to large site collections found at Discoverer's Web:

Viking Discoverers
Links to many sites about the Vikings, the first people to explore the New World.

The Viking Network Web
Information written for or by students in grades 5 through 10.

Kid Info...Explorers
A large site that includes links to encyclopedia entries, sites on exploration, and biographies of individual explorers. Although not specifically geared to European explorers of North America, references to many of those explorers are included.




Individual sites that are full of interesting information and activities -- but which do not appear at any of the collection sites above -- are also worth exploring.

The European Voyages of Exploration
This site concentrates on the explorations of the Portuguese and Spanish. It focuses on the technical problems and progress of the early explorers rather than on specific explorers or their voyages, and it includes fascinating information about geography and cartography, shipbuilding and navigation, and early maritime superiority.

Virtual Museum of New France
Information and activities specifically related to the exploration and settling of the areas of Canada known as New France. Click Adventures to read about one explorer's adventure in New France and to complete a cartopuzzle. You might be inspired to create a puzzle of your own. Then explore the People of New France including the fur traders and les filles du roi. Explore the Tourist Routes to New France or click Exhibitions to learn what it was like to live in New France at the time of Champlain. The Timeline, although primarily geared to New France, includes information about the French exploration of all of North America from 1492 to 1508.

Spanish Exploration and Conquest of Native America
Information about the Conquistadors and their impact on America.

This site explains the explorers' knowledge of latitude in 1516 and provides access to additional information about shipbuilding, navigation, and much more.

Explorers of North America
Flashcards, a matching game, a concentration game, and a word search help students review and test their knowledge of the explorers and their explorations.

Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © Education World



  • Be sure to see more great lessons for teaching about the explorers in the Discoverer's Day archive.


    Updated 01/29/2013