Age of Exploration

Core Knowledge

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The Age of Exploration introduces students to European exploration and trade from the 1400s to the 1600s. Students discover motivations for European exploration, including profit from the trade of goods such as gold, silk, sugar, and spices, as well as the desire to spread Christianity. Students study specific explorers (Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Cabral, Christopher Columbus, Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro, and Ferdinand Magellan) and learn about their encounters with indigenous peoples. Students also learn about John Cabot and the search for the Northwest Passage, Sir Francis Drake, Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, and Henry Hudson. In addition, students read about the early slave trade and the beginnings of slavery in the Americas.

This unit includes a Student Reader, Timeline Image Cards, and Teacher Guide, providing Guided Reading Supports and the following Additional Activities: Cool Facts About European Explorers; nonfiction excerpts from the journals of da Gama and Columbus; a nonfiction excerpt about life aboard a slave ship; a virtual field trip to the United Nations World Heritage site of Gorée Island in Senegal (where enslaved Africans were held); domain vocabulary exercises; and a Unit Assessment.

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