Age of Discovery/Age of Exploration
Contains affiliate links
If you appreciate these resources, please consider supporting me on Patreon to enable me to continue to provide more free resources.
**Note: This is a very long page, so please scroll down to see it all. Timeline covers Videos, Books, and Field Trip suggestions, for various explorers. Activities for multiple explorers at a time are towards the bottom of the page after the timeline.
***Note 2: Books marked with an asterisk (*) are my favorites
****Note 3: I have decided to label these books with younger, middle, and older students, to help differentiate which children I think these would be best for, with younger being approximately 8 and under (read-aloud), middle being roughly 8-12 (read-aloud), and 12 and up being older (reader). Numbers would be too confusing. I hate to label them because I know children can be very different, but I was just trying to make things easier for those wanting to find something that fits their students. I have tried to include: Title with a link, a short description, level (meaning the AR-assigned reading level or which grade level the book is labeled for reading purposes) (if I can’t find the AR level, sometimes I use the Lexile, which is another complicated system for determining reading level, sometimes there wasn’t information on reading level at all), location in the US the book hits upon, and recommended age range.
*****Note 4: You will notice I have included some old books that are out of print. I have included them because often they contain good, valuable information in an easier-to-read format, without a lot of the gratuitous violence or behavior that is prevalent in newer books. Some of these books can be found in your library, but I have found the Open Library website to be very useful because many of them can be read for free online. Checkout is for one-hour periods, but since these are older books, you can almost always get the books you want right away and check them out multiple times over multiple days.
American History Easy Make and Learn Books:
- Interactive 3D Maps: American History – we purchased the digital version from the Scholastic Teacher’s Store – Pages 18:29
- Cortés and Coronado Explore America Map
- The French Explore North America Map
- Cabot and Hudson Explore North America Map
- Lift the Flap Timelines: American History – we purchased the digital version from the Scholastic Teacher’s Store
- Explorers: Pages 9-12
- What Was the Age of Exploration? A look at many explorers and the places they discovered. Lexile 910. Middle students.
Timeline: Videos, Books, Field Trips
Treaty of Tordesillas
- Treaty of Tordesillas(The Pope divided the world between Portugal and Spain).
Amerigo Vespucci – Brazil, First to Demonstrate He Reached a New World
- Amerigo Vespucci, nonfiction, level 5.4. Younger student.
- *Amerigo Vespucci, Scientist, and Sailor, an older book, a read-aloud style that shows why America is better for being named for this explorer. Middle student.
John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) – Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, Canada
- Unit 9 Lesson 8 Read-Aloud: John Cabot
- John Cabot’s Discovery of America
- The Ballad Of John Cabot (Bobby Evans)
- John Cabot: PBS World Explorers
- John Cabot nonfiction, level 5.0. Younger student.
- John Cabot and His Son Sebastian Older book written in story format. Middle student.
- Travel with the Great Explorers: Explore with John Cabot nonfiction, magazine-style articles, level 6.0. Older student.
- John Cabot House, Beverly Massachusetts.
Vasco da Gama – Sea Route to India
- Voyages – Segment 1 of 3 – “Vasco Da Gama”
- Why Did Vasco Da Gama Come To India? | Learn With BYJU’S
- Vasco da Gama: PBS World Explorers
- Mouse Overboard! Geronimo Stilton, mouse explorer, and friends set out to retrace the voyage of famed explorer, Vasco da Gama. Level 4.5 Indian Ocean. Middle or younger students.
- Vasco da Gama, nonfiction, level 4.6 Indian Ocean. Younger student.
- *Vasco da Gama nonfiction, level 4.0. Indian Ocean. Younger or middle students.
Juan Ponce de León – Florida
- Juan Ponce de León: Meet the Spanish explorer who discovered Florida
- Juan Ponce de León | PBS World Explorers
- Ask History: Is There Really a Fountain of Youth? | History
- *Juan Ponce de León short nonfiction biography, level 4.1. Florida. Middle student.
- Juan Ponce de León nonfiction, level 4.6. Florida, Younger student.
- Juan Ponce de León light biography, nonfiction, level 6.9. Middle student.
- *The Magic Fountain: Another Really Truly Story Black and white picture book, that reads almost like a fairy tale, Younger or middle students.
- Ponce De León: Explorer of Florida nonfiction, level 4.8. Middle or older students.
- Ponce de León: Exploring Florida and Puerto Rico nonfiction, level 7.1. Older student.
- Ponce de León Searches for the Fountain of Youth nonfiction, level 4.8. Younger or middle students.
- Travel with the Great Explorers: Explore with Ponce de León nonfiction, magazine-style biography, level 5.8. Older student.
- Who Was Juan Ponce de León – Who Was series, nonfiction. Level 4.3. Middle Students.
- Museum Ponce de León, Castilla y León, Spain, Europe
- Museo Casa Blanka, San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Museum Ponce de León, San Rafael de Yuma, Dominican Republic
- Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, Ponce Inlet, Florida
- Fountain of Youth Park, St. Augustine, Florida
Vasco Núñez de Balboa – Found Pacific Ocean by Land
- Vasco Núñez de Balboa older chapter book style biography, Panama. Middle student.
- Vasco Núñez de Balboa: Explorer to the Pacific Ocean Nonfiction, level 4.5. Middle or older student.
- A World Explorer: Vasco Nunez de Balboa, read-aloud style book, Middle students.
Hernán Cortés (AKA Hernando Cortez) lands in Mexico
- *Hernán Cortés Easy to read nonfiction account, level 3.7. Younger or middle students.
- Hernán Cortés Nonfcition, level 4.8. Younger students.
- Hernando Cortés: Conquistador and Empire Builder nonfiction, level 5.8. Older students.
- Hernando Cortés: Spanish invader of Mexico nonfiction, level 6.9. Older students.
- *La Malinche: The Princess Who Helped Cortés Conquer the Aztec Emperor, a long picture book about a young slave girl who became one of the most important women in the country, both a hero and a traitor to her people. Level 8.2. Older students.
- *A Land of Books: Dreams of Young Mexihcah Word Painters inspired by the pre-Columbian codices, this picture book tells the story of how—contrary to the historical narrative that European colonizers bestowed “civilization” and knowledge to the Americas—the Aztecs and their neighbors in the Valley of Mexico painted books and records long before Columbus arrived, and continued doing so among their Nahua-speaking descendants for generations after the Spanish Conquest. Level 4.3. Mexico. Middle or older students.
- La Noche Triste (The Sad Night) in Mexico (Hernán Cortés). A story of the last major battle the Aztecs Won. Older students.
The Fall of the Aztec Empire
- Hernan Cortes and the Fall of the Aztec Empire the link is for the Spanish edition, but our library had the English version. Jr. Graphic biography, graphic novel. Level 3.4. Middle students.
Giovanni da Verrazzano – New York Harbor and Narragansett Bay
- Verrazano, explorer of the Atlantic Coast, read-aloud style historical fiction. Middle students.
Pánfilo de Narváez – Florida / Tampa Bay
- Who Was Pánfilo de Narváez? (references eating their horses) (this is the expedition from which Cabeza de Vaca, from the book Walk the World’s Rim, is known, this video has several harsh moments).
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca – (See Walk the World’s Rim) – Texas, Arizona, New Mexico
- Shipwrecked Conquistadors Become Native Healers: Cabeza De Vaca & The Children of The Sun
- The Suppressed Supernatural Story of Cabeza de Vaca(Very Christian viewpoint, with a sermon starting at about the halfway point)
- Cabeza de Vaca: Conquistador Who Cared, nonfiction, Middle students.
- *Cabeza de Vaca: Defender of the Indians, historical fiction, read-aloud style biography. Middle to older students.
- The Journey of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: Translated From His Own Narrative a primary source book, with other primary sources in the back, this is a great text for older students. Is an older book, so uses older language but is easy to read.
- On the Texas Trail of Cabeza de Vaca 1527 the conquistador Cabeza de Vaca set sail for the Spanish territory of La Florida. His aim was to colonize land that stretched from present-day Florida to Texas, but the mission met with disaster. During an attempt to sail back to Cuba, Cabeza de Vaca and his crew crashed near Galveston Island. From there, he embarked on one of history’s great adventures. Level 7.1 Older students.
- *We Asked for Nothing In 1528, the conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca escaped a hostile reception in Florida only to be shipwrecked off the coast of Texas. For the next eight years, he lived among the native tribes of the Southwest while he journeyed toward the safety of the Spanish settlements in Mexico. He and three companions survived starvation, sickness, and slavery thanks to the generosity of native peoples along the way. Lexile 1020. Middle to Older Students.
Francisco Pizarro (Francisco Pizarro González) – Panama, Peru
- Explore with Francisco Pizarro magazine-style nonfiction, level 6.0. Older students.
- *Francisco Pizarro nonfiction. Level 3.8 Younger or middle students.
- Francisco Pizarro, Explorer of South America easy to read nonfiction biography. Middle to older students.
Jacques Cartier – Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Canada, Gulf of St. Lawrence
- Jacques Cartier: French Explorer That Named Canada – Fast Facts | History
- Jacques Cartier Biography (1491-1557) French mariner & explorer of Canada
- Encounter, a picture book imagining based on the journal of Jacques Cartier. Level 3.1. Canada (Quebec and Montreal). Younger students.
- Jacques Cartier: Exploring the St. Lawrence River nonfiction, level 6.5. Older students.
- Travel with the Great Explorers: Explore with Jacques Cartier nonfiction, magazine-style biography, level 6.0. Older students.
- Jacques Cartier, nonfiction, middle to older students.
- Musée Jacques Cartier, Saint-Malo, France
- Musée de la Gaspésie and Jacques Cartier Monument, Gaspé (Quebec) Canada
Hernando De Soto – South Carolina, Mississippi River
- De Soto: Explorer of the Southeast reader style, nonfiction. Middle students.
- Hernando De Soto nonfiction, level 4.2. Younger students.
- *Hernando de Soto: A world explorer Historical fiction biography of the famed explorer, could be used as a reader or read-aloud. Middle students.
- Travel with the Great Explorers: Explore with Hernando de Soto nonfiction, magazine-style articles, level 6.0. Older students.
Francisco Vázquez de Coronado – Colorado River, Grand Canyon, New Mexico, Kansas
- *A World Explorer: Francisco Coronado Read-aloud style historical fiction. MIddle students.
- Francisco Coronado nonfiction, level 7.2. Older students.
- Francisco Vasquez De Coronado nonfiction, level 4.7
- Francisco Vasquez De Coronado: The Search for the Cities of Gold nonfiction, level 5.8
- *Gonzalo, Coronado’s Shepherd Boy fictional biography told from the viewpoint of a son of an indentured servant forced to go along for the journey to find the seven cities of Cibola, this would make an interesting read-aloud but does have a few violent points. It kind of picks up about where Walk the World’s Rim leaves off, but it is not a sequel. Level 5.1
- Travel with the Great Explorers: Explore with Francisco Vazquez de Coronado nonfiction, magazine-style articles, level 6.
- Where is the Grand Canyon, part of the Who Was series, nonfiction. Middle students.
Fort Augustine (the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African-American origin in the United States)
- The Old Fort at St. Augustine nonfiction, level 6.0, but an easier read. Middle students.
- St. Augustine Longer nonfiction account of the United State’s Oldest City. Older students.
Iroquois League Formed (Also See: Peacemaker)
Sir Francis Drake – Cape Horn, Tierra del Fuego, First to Cross Tip of South America and Reach the Pacific Ocean
- Sir Francis Drake, nonfiction, level 4.8. Younger students.
- *You Wouldn’t Want to Explore With Sir Francis Drake!: A Pirate You’d Rather Not Know, part of the You Wouldn’t Want series, sometimes harsher content, level 5.7. Middle students.
Gregorian Calendar Invented and Changed Historical Dates
- *About the History of the Calendar, old book about time, calendars, and how and why the latest version of the calendar is better for the world, according to the book. Younger or middle students.
- You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Clocks and Calendars! More modern book, part of the You Wouldn’t Want to series, so sometimes a bit graphic, refers to “more than 30,000 years ago.” Lots of good info, but it doesn’t really talk about why the switch to the Gregorian Calendar happened. Middle students.
Sir Walter Ralegh/Raleigh – Virginia, Roanoke, North Carolina
- Sir Walter Raleigh and John White | PBS World Explorers
- Walter Raleigh crosses the Atlantic in search of EL Dorado and the Seven Cities of Gold in 1595
- Sir Walter Raleigh nonfiction, level 4.1. Younger students.
- Sir Walter Raleigh: Founding the Virginia Colony nonfiction, level 6.7. Older students.
- *Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, longer historical fiction, level 8.2. Older students.
Arts and Crafts:
Lapbooks/Notebooking Pages/Unit Studies/Activity Pages/Paper Dolls/Games: