If you have heard about the age of exploration, you would know that it can be a slightly controversial subject. There are opposing views of whether it was an age of exploration or a period of invasion. Regardless of which side you are on, these hands-on activities for studying the age of exploration will go great alongside your lessons.
Note: The opinions in this article are purely from me and not at all from Homeschool Giveaways.
My specific stance on this matter is that this was an age of exploration. All of us, aside from indigenous people, would not be here had it not been for an idea to discover new lands during this period.
If you want to explore the idea of exploration vs. invasion further with your older kids, the following lesson would be a great place to start. This is a great topic to practice debating, opinion papers, expository essays, etc. The lesson provides awesome hands-on activities your kids will enjoy.
Age of Exploration … OR … Age of Invasion? | Common Sense Education
What is the age of exploration?
The age of exploration began in the 15th century and lasted straight through the 17th century. This started with Europeans exploring the world by sea in search of new trading routes, explore new nations, wealth, and knowledge.
Whether you think this was an invasion only or an exploratory journey, the period greatly impacted the world. The truth is that explorers were looking for the unknown; they were in search for new things and new riches.
By the end of the age of exploration, the technological advances formed a knowledge of the world around them, and allowed for sea travel across the globe.
Here are some specific impacts of the age of exploration you can share with your kids:
A navigator named Prince Henry started a school to teach navigation.
Christopher Columbus brought knowledge of North and South America, but he initially thought it was China.
A mapmaker (cartographer) honored Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer, and merchant, by naming a new land after him – America.
The Conquistadors, from Spain, attacked the Native American cultures as they looked for gold and silver. This is probably proof that some went on journeys to explore for riches, yet knew they would be conquering anyone who they found in the lands they wanted to explore.
Explorers didn’t just invade and conquer. Although they did bring a lot of diseases, and many Native Americans died because of those diseases.
Marco Polo gathered the information he knew about the prosperous Asian empires and began European interest in Asian trade and culture.
The Spanish and Portuguese were the first known to created world nautical maps. In the maps, they depicted the lands, but also the sea routes and even ocean currents.
And my kids’ favorite… food. Europeans hadn’t known about corn, sweet potatoes, or peanuts.
There was no doubt hardship, but these impacts are just the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to new knowledge, exploration, navigation, and so much more.
We are still experiencing the impacts of exploration today. If you understand the distinction of first world countries, second and third world countries, their development is closely related to when they were discovered or colonized – if they were colonized.
If you intend to study the age of exploration, you won’t want to miss these hands-on activities for studying the Age of Exploration:
Hands-on Explorers Unit | Adventures in Mommydom
Explorers & the Age of Exploration Interactive Notebook & Test | Amy Mezni – Teaching Ideas 4U
Age of Exploration PowerPoint with Video Clips + Presenter Notes | Lesson Plan Ninja
Age of Exploration Document Based Question Activity DBQ FRQ Lesson | Michele Luck’s Social Studies
The Age of European Exploration (Task Cards) | Steve Hiles
Explorers & Trading Interactive PowerPoint | StudentSavvy
Age of Exploration Choice Board Social Studies Activity Menu Project Rubric | Stanford’s Stellar Studies
Age of Exploration Packet | Homeschool Den
European Explorers Project FREEBIES | The Techie Teacher
Interactive Age of Exploration Unit | The Clever Teacher
Exploring the Explorers to America | Line Upon Line Learning
Explorers Mini Puzzle Unit (FREE Printable) | In All You Do
Age of Exploration Videos for Students | The Clever Teacher
European Explorers – Age of Exploration Project Choice Board | Jersey Girl Gone South
Age of Exploration Distance Learning Interactive Notebook | StudentSavvy
The Age of Exploration Storybook Activity | Amped Up Learning
Age of Exploration UNIT (without passages) | The Sweetest Thing
3rd Grade History Learning Activity: Age of Exploration | Learning Lift-Off
Little Passports Early Explorers Landmarks | Living Montessori Now
Age of Exploration Google Drive Interactive Notebook | Students of History
Age of Discovery Explorers Magic Portrait Lesson | Students of History
Break-In To History Activity Age of Exploration | Amped Up Learning
Age of Exploration Display Board Poster Project Kit | School Project Printables
Games for studying the age of exploration:
Early European Explorers Activity (Age of Exploration Game) | Science Spot
A Memorable World Explorer Game for Two Players | Line Upon Line Learning
Age of Exploration Game | Adventures in Mommydom
Timelines for studying the age of exploration:
European Explorers – Age of Exploration – Timeline Activity | Jersey Girl Gone South
Age of Exploration Timeline (FREE Activity)| Layers of Learning
Hands-on activities for specific explorers:
Hands-on Marco Polo Silk Road Game | Line Upon Line Learning
Henry the Navigator
Henry the Navigator Historical Stick Figure (Mini-biography) | Greg’s Goods – Making History Fun
A Christopher Columbus Activities and Unit Study Resources | Teaching with Children’s Books
Christopher Columbus FREE Activity Book for Homeschool and Grades K-3 | History at Home
Ferdinand Magellan Craft Ideas: Crafts for Kids (Video) | eHowArtsAndCrafts
Spanish Explorer Interactive Notebook Unit–DISTANCE LEARNING (Ferdinand Magellan) | Splash! Publications
General activities to study the age of exploration:
5 Fun Geography Activities for Preschoolers | My Bright Firefly
Life of a Sailor Unit and Activities | Adventures in Mommydom
Writing prompts about Explorers | WriteShop
Map Skills for Kids: Planning a Route | STEAMsational
FREE Activity Book for Children: Girls Explore Too! | World for a Girl
How to Make a Compass | Parenting Chaos
Land, Water, Air Toolbox Geography Activities | Living Montessori Now
There will be both advantages and disadvantages to the age of exploration. The exploration period impacted our entire world in both good ways and bad.
Of course, the exploration brought with it opportunity, better trade routes, better economy, and new resources. Yet, we understand that it also negatively impacted the people already in the lands in which the exploration had reached.
It is important to share both sides with our children for awareness. The age of exploration destroyed civilizations and forced religion upon the masses. It also brought economic prosperity and a chance for others to know the true God.
You can find The Age of Exploration: Pros and Cons in a Prezi presentation here. Either way, it has brought our world to where it is today – a blessed place all under the hand of God, waiting for everyone to know him.