I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.
This is part 5 of a 5 part hands-on unit on Explorers. Bake constellation bar cookies, create star finders, act out Cartier's expedition, and more! My lessons are geared toward 2nd-3rd grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 14 children between the ages of 0-11. Use these fun lessons with your class, family, or homeschool co-op group!
Introduction and Celestial Navigational
1. Stretch. Pray. Discuss Psalm 19:1-2.
2. Review continents and oceans and sing continent song (sung to tune of "Love & Marriage" 2x). Point to the continents and oceans on a map as you sing.
North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa
Don't Forget Antarctica
Or way down under in Australia
Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian, Arctic, They're both oceans
North Pole, South Pole, Equator
I know all about maps and globes
3. Discuss types of navigation focusing on celestial navigation.
4. Read Starry Sky by Kate Hayden or part of The Discovery of Longitude by Joan Galat.
Read Aloud Book Options for Activity 4
5. Make Constellation Cookies. *We will divide up into 4 groups. Each group will make the below recipe.
Constellation Bar Cookies
1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 + 1/8 cup sugar
1/4 + 1/8 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (a 12-oz. package) chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375F. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips, reserving 1/2 cup to make
constellations. Spread into greased 9x9 baking pan. Smooth top. Arrange 1/2 cup of reserved chocolate chips to make constellations of the
season. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes. Cool; cut into 2" squares or divide by constellations.
YOU WILL NEED: 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, non-stick cooking spray, 9x9 baking dish per group of 4-5 children, measuring cups and spoons per group of 4-5 children, mixing bowl per group of 4-5 children, mixing spoon per group of 4-5 children, 3 (12-oz) packages semisweet chocolate chips, 4 1/2 cups flour, 2 cups butter or margarine (4 sticks), & 4 eggs
6. Discuss how the North Star appears to stay in place using umbrella and chalk (or white dot stickers). Children sit under the umbrella as you slowly twirl the umbrella around them. Ahead of time you should have put dots for the stars that make up the Little Dipper. If it would be visible in your umbrella, connect the dots with lines for the Little Dipper. The main center part of the umbrella will be the end of the tail. As you slowly twirl the umbrella over the heads of the children, talk about how the constellations appear to rotate above our heads during the course of the year but the North Star/Polaris stays the same just like the main stem of the umbrella stays constant. Many explorers used the North Star to gauge where they were in the Northern Hemisphere.
YOU WILL NEED: 1 large umbrella with a white chalk dots (or use white dot stickers) inside in the form of the little dipper. The North Star will be represented by the stem (center) of the umbrella.
7. Look at constellations in book and discuss how they could have been used to guide sailors at night.
8. Make a star finder. Instruct the children on how to fold this and use it.
YOU WILL NEED: 14 copies of the starfinder sheet (Pre-fold & then unfold 3 for the youngest kids.)
John Cabot, the Northwest Passage, and Sir Francis Drake
9. Briefly discuss the Northwest Passage and show on a map.
YOU WILL NEED: map
10. Briefly discuss John Cabot by reading parts of John Cabot and Son by David Goodnough. Point out Cabot's routes on a map.
11. Put on a pirate hat if you have one. Briefly discuss Sir Francis Drake by reading parts of You Wouldn't Want to Explore with Sir Francis Drake!: A Pirate You'd Rather Not Know. Point out Drake's route on a map.
YOU WILL NEED: pirate/tricorn hat & map
Book to Use for Activity 10
Book to Use for Activity 11
12. Briefly discuss Jacques Cartier using pictures from a book. Show the picture of Cartier planting a cross in Canada. Select one child to be Cartier. Put a "French explorer hat" on a child's head and hand him/her a large cross. Select two other children to be Cartier's sailors and give them 2 hats to wear. Select 3 children to be Iroquois and give them towels to tuck between their legs and tuck into the front and back of their pants. Cartier will march up to the front saying, "Long live the king of France!" and "plant" the cross at the front of the room as his sailors watch. The "Iroquois" will shout a bit and chase them away.
TEACHER/PARENT 3: YOU WILL NEED: a French explorer hat (two sagging pillows with a long feather stuck between them), a large cross that says "Long live the king of France!" (a figurine if you have one & you can tape on those words or just make one out of construction paper), 2 sailor-type hats, 3 towels
Book to Use for Activity 12
13. Briefly discuss Henry Hudson using pictures from Beyond the Sea of Ice: The Voyages of Henry Hudson by Joan Elizabeth Goodman. Show children his routes on a map.
14. Made Henry Hudson snowflakes. Give each child a piece of paper and scissors and show them how to fold the paper and then cut it at various places to make a paper snowflakes. This should remind them of Hudson's cold expeditions.
TEACHER/PARENT 4: YOU WILL NEED: a paper snowflake example, 12 pieces of paper, 12 pairs of scissors
Book to Use for Activity 13
Northwest Passage Song, Snack, and Review
15. Sing The Northwest Passage Song by Kyle Hall.
The Northwest Passage Explorers Song by Kyle Hall
(to the tune of "Alouette")
French and English explorers
Wanted to find Asia,
Using a Northwest Passage
1. Giovanni Caboto
Sailed for England as John Cabot;
He discovered Newfoundland - 1497!
2. Verrazano claimed land for France;
He discovered the Hudson River,
Be - fore Hud - son - 1524!
3. Henry Hudson discovered a bay,
And a river, and a strait;
They were all named after him - 1609 and 1610!
YOU WILL NEED:Words to the song written in big words
16. Eat piece of bar cookie & drink water
YOU WILL NEED: 14 paper napkins and 14 small cups for water. Possibly 14 sandwich bags to take home extra.
17. Review information needed for Explorer Night. Review "Continent Song", "Spanish Explorers", and "Northwest Passage" songs 2x each.
18. 5 Minute Review of what we learned.
Material List for the Lesson
*Everyone needs to bring per child:
-1 piece of white paper
-Explorer report & food to share (optional) if you're doing Explorer pretensions immediately following the class
*Items to be assigned to individuals to bring for the group:
-books on constellations (such as Starry Sky by Kate Hayden or Zoo in the Sky by Jacqueline Mitton), Sir Francis Drake, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, Henry Hudson (such as Beyond the Sea of Ice: The Voyages of Henry Hudson by Joan Elizabeth Goodman), and the Northwest Passage
-1 1/8 cups all purpose flour per 4-5 children (Don't pre-measure the amount.)
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda per 4-5 children (Don't pre-measure the amount.)
-1/2 teaspoon salt per 4-5 children (Don't pre-measure the amount.)
-1/2 cup butter, softened, per 4-5 children (Don't pre-measure the amount.)
-1/4 + 1/8 cup sugar per 4-5 children (Don't pre-measure the amount.)
-1/4 + 1/8 cup firmly packed brown sugar per 4-5 children (Don't pre-measure the amount.)
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract per 4-5 children (Don't pre-measure the amount.)
-1 egg per 4-5 children
-1 (12-oz. package) chocolate chips per 4-5 children
-non-stick cooking spray
-one 9x9 baking dish per 4-5 children
-one set of measuring cups and spoons per 4-5 children
-1 mixing bowl (or 2 if you plan to mix the dry ingredients separately)
-1 mixing spoon per 4-5 children
-1 copy of constellation cookies recipe & constellation sheet: http://www.astrosociety.org/education/hands-on-astronomy-activities/ (Click on Constellation Cookies)
-1 large umbrella with a white chalk dot inside
-1 copy of this starfinder sheet per child: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/starfinder/
-a French explorer "hat" (two sagging pillows with a long feather stuck between them)
-a large cross that says "Long live the king of France!" (a cross figurine if you have one & you can tape on those words or just make a cross by taping together 2 sticks and then taping the sign on it)
-2 sailor-type hats
-a paper snowflake example
-1 paper napkin per child
-1 small cup for water per child
-the words to the song printed in big letters
More of Our Favorite Astronomy Books
There are so many great astronomy books out there. Pretty soon we'll be doing an entire unit on astronomy. We're just dipping our toes in it in this lesson. Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations by Jacqueline Mitton gives a brief story about various constellations in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The illustrations look like the one on the cover, which has a nicely illustrated picture of the animal drawn over the stars that make up that constellation. The stars are shiny and are different sizes. Little Bear, You're a Star!: A Greek Myth About the Constellations by Jean Marzollo is a child-friendly version of the Greek myth describing how the bears got into the sky. It is perfect for this lesson since the last star in the Little Bear/Ursa Minor constellation is the North Star. We also enjoyed Let's Go, Pegasus! by Jean Marzollo and Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude by Louise Borden.
More of Our Favorite Children's Books on Sir Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake: His Daring Deeds by Roy Gerrard tells facts about Sir Francis Drake in rhyming text. One of my favorite picture books was Francis Drake by David Goodnough, which has illustrations on every page and is short enough to read in one sitting but contains plenty of information. My Uncle Was Sir Francis Drake (Little Histories) by Rob Childs is told from the perspective of Sir Francis Drake's nephew, who accompanies him on his ship. Also look for Francis Drake and the Sea Rovers of the Spanish Main by John Malam. Sir Francis Drake and His Daring Deeds (Horribly Famous) by Andrew Donkin is an easy to ready chapter book with illustrations and plenty of humor. The author did quite a bit of research to find interesting tidbits and present them in an manner that is amusing to middle to upper elementary aged children. Francis Drake, Sailor of the Unknown Seas by Ronald Syme was the book we read as a family. After each chapter my boys either wrote 1-2 sentences or drew what the most important event was from that chapter. Another equally good option would be A World Explorer: Sir Francis Drake by John T. Foster.
More Great Books on John Cabot
John Cabot (Jr. Graphic Famous Explorers) by Steven Roberts presents John Cabot's life in a graphic illustrated (comic book style illustrated) manner, which my boys love! Into the Unknown - Tudor Explorers John and Sebastian Cabot (Historical Storybooks) by Margaret Nash is a great picture books on John Cabot. The Cod's Tale by Mark Kurlansky is a long picture book covering quite a bit about cod, and it also includes quite a bit about some of the explorers (including John Cabot) and their amusing experiences with cod. My 10 year old really enjoyed it.
More of Our Favorite Children's Books on Henry Hudson
Hudson by Janice Weaver is a longer children's book with more text than we needed for a read aloud book. It is still interesting and has some nice sidebars with additional information. Henry Hudson (Jr. Graphic Famous Explorers) by Jane Gould presents Hudson's life in a graphic illustrated (comic book style illustrated) manner, which my boys love! Henry Hudson (Explorers and Discoverers Series) by Marie M. Richards is the shortest picture book we could find on Henry Hudson and is perfect for a read aloud book. Unfortunately it is no longer published, so it is more challenging to obtain a copy. River of Dreams: the Story of the Hudson River by Hudson Talbott covers the history of the Hudson River, including the exploration of it done by Henry Hudson and his men. Henry Hudson (Adventures in the New World) by Ruth W. Harley was my favorite picture book biography on Henry Hudson. It has black and white illustrations and is a longer picture book, though not as long as many of the others I listed as long. Henry Hudson: Captain of the Ice- Bound Seas by Carl Carmer was the book we read as a family. After each chapter my boys either wrote 1-2 sentences or drew what the most important event was from that chapter. You can also look for Voyage of the Half Moon by Tracey West, which is 55 pages and is written from the perspective of Hudson's son.
Build Viking shields and swords and "sail" to Vineland with Leif Erikson, walk the route of Marco Polo (through your house) and collect the items that he saw on his journey through China, go on a compass treasure hunt, dramatize Columbus' journey, make Da Gama Portuguese land markers, create Montezuma's headdress, go on a conquistador hunt for gold, bake constellation bar cookies, dress up as and present on famous explorers, and more during this unit study on Explorers!
- Marco Polo and Leif Erikson Lesson - This is part 1 of a 5 part hands-on unit on Explorers. Walk the route of Marco Polo (through the house) and collect the items he came across while in Asia. Make Viking bread, Viking helmets, shields, and swords and “sail” to Vineland (America) as a Viking, and more!
- Christopher Columbus & Prince Henry the Navigator Lesson - This is part 2 of a 5 part hands-on unit study on Explorers. Go on a compass treasure hunt, eat sailor food, jump across the parts of a caravel ship, act out Columbus' journey, and more!
- Da Gama, Vespucci, Balboa, & Magellan Lesson - This is part 3 of a 5 part hands-on unit study on Explorers. Make Da Gama Portuguese land markers, Vespucci parrot puppets, and Balboa hiding-in-a-barrel stick puppets. Search for the Pacific Ocean with Balboa (through your house). Eat “sawdust” and “leather” with Magellan and many more activities!
- Ponce de Leon, Aztecs, Cortes, & Conquistadors Lesson This is part 4 of a 5 part hands-on unit on Explorers. Create Montezuma's headdress, act out the meeting between Cortes & Montezuma, go on a conquistador hunt for gold, and more!
- Cabot, Cartier, Drake, Hudson, and Astronomy Lesson - This is part 5 of a 5 part hands-on unit on Explorers. Bake constellation bar cookies, create star finders, act out Cartier's expedition, and more!
- Explorer Unit Presentations and Field Trip Ideas – For the culminating project we following the 5 part hands-on unit on explorers, the children dressed as explorers, made presentations, and shared “authentic” food from their explorer’s country of origin. They also sang the songs from the unit. Also included are the field trips we took during this unit.
- Fun, FREE Hands-On Unit Studies - Over the years I have posted over 35 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources.
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys!
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
If you could have traveled with one of these explorers, which would it have been? - Or just leave me a note. I love getting feeddback from you!
anonymous on August 19, 2011:
Great lens! The cookies sound delish!