Our Explorer unit is in full swing now and things are moving along quite nicely. After a brief oral retelling by me about how the world was, for all intents and purposes, two separate entities, since the oceans kept the two major hemispheres apart, we launched into a reading about the various reasons why the early European explorers decided to explore in the first place.
Now, each year I do this with the students and, in the past, I had the students create a little flipbook of those reasons (I wrote about it here in this post). This year, I took a little different approach. We talked about how there are three main categories that historians have classified European desire to explore -- God, Glory, and Gold.
I gave the students this article which outlined these three reasons fairly well. (but be forewarned. This article came from a homeschooling blog and it a bit religious. I had to do some cutting and pasting of a few of the paragraphs before I gave it to my students.) Before we read, I talked to them about how when reading informational text, we generally do it with a purpose in mind. We created this anchor chart together.
Then, I had the students write the purpose of our reading at the top of the passage. They wrote, "What were some reasons early European explorers explored?" I also had them write "God", "Glory", and "Gold", using a different color crayon for each of those three words.
As we read the informational article, whenever we came across information answering our purpose question, the students highlighted it with the crayon that best suited the categorization of that information. For example, if the passage was talking about how the explorers wanted to convert those who they came into contact with, they would highlight with the "God" color. Just from this simple color coding, they were able to see that a majority of the reasons for exploration were based in the desire to find gold and wealth.
Finally, as a way to display this information, with a little (ok, a lot) of inspiration from Susie the Panicked Teacher, I had the kids draw an explorer ship. They needed to draw three masts, with two triangular sails on each mast. At the top of the mast, they drew a little flag that read either "God", "Glory" or "Gold". On each of the sails, the students wrote the information they had summarized on their tree maps.
The actual boat section took an artistic turn. Susie gave me a sheet
that had about 20 different zentangle patterns. I asked the students to
divide their ship hull into 4 or 5 sections, then draw a zentangle
pattern in each one. They were free to use the patterns I had or to
create their own. They then outlined them in black marker, colored the
patterns in shades of brown, and cut the boats out.
My kids loved the zentangle. They were so focused and zen while drawing. All in all, I think this was a great way for them to think about the reasons for exploration while still getting in a little art. Want a step by step for the zentangle art? Click the link to Susie's blog above. She outlines how to do it so well....and you can pick up the free zentangle sample sheet I used in my class as well.
How do you introduce the reasons for early European exploration?