Let’s talk about how to teach European Explorers in Texas to our students in an engaging and meaningful way!
Welcome back for the European Explorers in Texas edition of a peek inside my Texas History INB. If you would like to check out previous entries on setting up your notebook, maps, regions of Texas, Native Americans, European explorers, Spanish Missions, Colonization, the Texas Revolution, or the Republic of Texas just click on the title.
When we start our European Explorers in Texas unit we are coming out of a HUGE project on Native Americans that our students love, and I am always afraid that the next unit will be a let-down. So, in order to make sure that doesn’t happen we pack the unit full of facts.
We always start by going back to the map and seeing if students remember their continents, which is always a bit of a let-down for me, but sometimes it’s not. We talk about where Europe and North America are and I have my students take some guesses about why the Europeans wanted to come to America.
From there we talk about a few of the early explorers such as Leif Erickson. A lot of students know his name from Spongebob. We also talk a bit about Columbus, because most students are already familiar with him as well. Once we get past those two we use this PowerPoint to get the rest of our information about European Explorers in Texas.
We talk about what a conquistador, explorer, and empresario are, as well as how each of them affected Texas.
As we discuss each of the explorers we trace their route on a map of the world. Then we write down important facts in our fold-ups.
We also discuss the three g’s of conquistadors and debate which one students think is the most important.
Pro-tip: When you glue the sorting pockets into student INBs have the opening face the spine. If the cards fall out of the pockets they will fall into the fold, not all over the floor.
To end our unit I use these task cards to hold a scavenger hunt assessment. If you have any extra time (what’s that?) my students also LOVE these activities of creating a postcard to send home from the point of view of an explorer and this dice simulation that puts them in the shoes of an explorer trying to find a new place.
The whole idea behind this is for students to write a postcard from the point of view of an explorer in Texas back to their family in Europe. I have students select a specific explorer and write about details particular to their journey. After they have written their message and addressed their postcard they are able to turn it over and illustrate it with an image from their trip.