Explorers of the New World:

A WebQUEST of Discovery
(Adapted from a WebQuest by Chery Dobbs )



Introduction   Task     Process     Resources    Evaluation



Explorers from every era have braved the unknown to discover new lands. Religious fervor, greed, trade, empire building, and a thirst for knowledge have all played parts in the motivation of these explorers and the countries who sponsored them. The world we know today has been shaped by their adventures. As important as these explorers have been and continue to be in the world's history, they are largely forgotten outside the classroom..

In the interest of preserving the heritage of these brave explorers, TOP CARDS™ has decided to launch a new line of trading cards to honor them. According to market research, Explorer Trading Cards™ could possibly be the next collecting mania to sweep the nation. TOP CARDS™ has opened their project up to the fifth graders of the world, inviting them to participate in a contest to nominate explorers  from the 1400's-1600's and help design this new line of cards. You are now invited to take part in this contest.      


Congratulations! You have been given the opportunity to nominate an explorer for the latest series of trading cards by Top Cards™. Working in pairs, you will search various resources to find information on an explorer of your choice from the 1400's to 1600's time period. Once you have gathered your information, you will create a trading card for that explorer to submit to Top Cards, and a persuasive essay to convince them of your explorer's worthiness. Only 15 explorers will be chosen for the first pack of cards to be produced, so be convincing!  


1.       Review the list of explorers provided below and pick your top 3 choices for a webquest research project.  Fill out the Explorer Selection Sheet.   Wait to receive your assignment.

2.     Using at least three websites listed under Resources, fill out the information on the Explorer Worksheet. Use this information to create a trading card on your explorer's voyage. You may make your own trading card design, just follow theTrading Card Requirements. You may use this template to help you design your card.

3.     As you search through internet and print sources for information on your explorer, be on the lookout for a picture or painting of him or her to be used both on the trading card and as an illustration on your essay page.  

4.     Write a persuasive essay about your explorer's voyage, detailing why your explorer deserves to be included in the Explorer's Trading Card pack. More information on how to write your persuasive essay can be found here. Be sure to include a picture or two that you find in your research.

5.     Create a bibliography of the resources you used in your research, including websites. Use BibMe to write the citations in MLA format or use the Grade 5 Citation format here.



Marvel Maine Kids Page: Britannica School Edition – Articles on explorers written at three different levels.

Explorers A to Z  - Hundreds of links organized alphabetically by explorer

Enchanted Learning: Explorers of the Americas : easy to use, alphabetically, by region, or by time period http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/america.shtml

Discoverers Web – great resource and information is listed many ways including alphabetically     http://www.win.tue.nl/~engels/discovery/index.html

Explorer’s Hall of Fame- A Thinkquest emtry, includes some of the explorers on the list, but not all.   http://tqjunior.thinkquest.org/4034/hall_of_fame.html

CyberSleuthKids: Explorers on the Web --This is a directory listing of websites on many, many explorers

Classroom Clip Art of historical figures, mostly black and white and slow to load, but interesting pictures. Free to use if in educational, non-commercial setting      http://classroomclipart.com/cgi-bin/kids/imageFolio.cgi?direct=History/Explorers




The following criteria will be used to grade your assignment and decide which of the cards and essays will be submitted to TOP CARDS™. All of the guidelines must be followed carefully for entrance into the contest.


4 = Exceeds the standards

3 = Meets the standards

2= Partially meets the standards

1= Does not meet the standards


Well researched using at least four websites.   Completed worksheet and bibliography. Conducted extra research from other sources.

Well researched using at least three websites. Completed Explorer Lab Worksheet. Bibliography completed.

Partially researched. Incomplete Explorer 
Lab Worksheet or   incomplete bibliography .

Poorly researched with factual errors. Incomplete Explorer Lab Worksheet or bibliography not completed.


Consistently on task lab beha-vior.   Partners worked together to go beyond basic standards.

Consistently on task lab behavior.  Always does fair share of work effort.

Mostly on task lab behavior.  Sometimes does fair share of work effort.

Frequent off -task lab beha-vior.  Does not do fair share of work effort.


Followed all guidelines. Arguments were convincing

 and well written. Excep-tionally well written.

Followed all guidelines. Arguments were convincing

 and well written.

Missed two or fewer parts of guidelines. Shaky argument or   awkward writing.

No attempt to follow guide-lines. Poorly written with few arguments made.


Neat and complete with no errors.  Extra graphic design effort made.

Neat and complete with no errors.

Lacking detail; two or fewer errors in information. 

More than two factual errors, no picture, lack-ing neatness.



Explorers of the New World

John Cabot (English): This Italian navigator (his real name was Giovanni Caboto) sailed for England and tried to find a western route to Asia and Japan. He “discovered” and claimed Labrador, Newfoundland, and New England for the English.

Sir Francis Drake (English): This English adventurer, pirate, and explorer was sent by Queen Elizabeth I in search of treasure and lands. He and his crew suffered many mishaps as they sailed around the world.

Jacques Cartier (French): With the help of Native Americans, this French explorer explored the St. Lawrence and Mississippi Rivers and claimed large portions of North America for France. He and his crew suffered from scurvy, a dreaded sea illness, and terrible cold.

Samuel de Champlain (French): This explorer started off as a geographer on a fur-trading ship. He made many trips to Canada and mapped and explored much of Quebec and the St. Lawrence River area.

Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese): This Portuguese explorer worked for the Spanish trying to find a western route around the Americas to Asia. Despite mutinies, terrible sickness, and battles with island natives, Magellan’s crew managed to be the first ever to sail around the world, even though Magellan himself did not make it.

Vasco de Gama (Portuguese): This brave Portuguese explorer found a way to sail around Africa to get coveted spices from the East Indies even though his crew members were often superstitious and afraid to travel in those waters.

Christopher Columbus (Italian): You’ve certainly heard of this Italian explorer before, but did you know that he made 4 different trips to the Americas? Or that, once, he was arrested and sent back to Spain in chains?

Juan Ponce de Leon (Spanish): This Spanish explorer set out to find gold, slaves and the famed “fountain of youth”. Instead, he discovered Florida, where he was attacked by angry natives.

Henry Hudson (English/Dutch): This navigator sailed for both England and Holland and had many adventures along the way. In addition to once landing on the coast of Maine, his ship also became lodged in ice for months, leading his crew to mutiny and eventually kill its captain.

Leif Eriksson (Viking): Many believe that more than 500 years before Columbus reached America, this adventurous Viking from Greenland discovered the coast of Canada.
Hernando de Soto (Spanish): This Spanish explorer marched through the swamplands of Florida, Georgia and Mississippi before discovering the Mississippi River, where he eventually died of a fever.

Hernán Cortés (Spanish): This Spanish explorer conquered the Aztecs in Mexico while in search of gold and riches. He took the great Inca leader, Montezuma, hostage.

Francisco de Coronado (Spanish): Spanish explorer who set out with an expedition to explore the southwestern United States in search of the Seven Cities of gold.

Francisco Pizarro (Spanish): Spanish explorer who tried to conquer the great Inca Empire of Peru. He succeeded but was later assassinated by another jealous explorer.

* Please consult with your teacher if there is an explorer whom you’d like to study that is not on this list.