Sunday, October 2, 2011

Explorer Journals

Last week we started studying early American Explorers as part of our Social Studies curriculum. I thought I would share how we do this. I have seen the ideas below in a variety of places. I have then taken them and tweaked them to fit what we are covering.

My students started with a legal-sized file folder. (I cut them along the fold line so each folder made 2  journals.) They then covered them in masking tape.

After the masking tape, came shoe polish. I just bought the cheap liquid stuff at the dollar store. It dried quickly and gave the desired effect.

I then made journal pages to put inside. Those were stapled into place.

Here is what the inside cover looked like:

There you have it! A lovely journal to keep our notes about explorers. We will tie a string around them when we finish all of the pages.

The kids loved making them! Inside, they are then filling in all kids of information about some of the important explorers that they need to know. There is a spot for the explorers name, years explored, what he was looking for, what he found, where he traveled, and other facts. On the other side of the page, I put a world map so that they can draw out the route traveled. Last, but not least, (my favorite part) is the journaling section at the end. This is a spot where my students pretend that they are a person on the expedition with the explorer. They then write a letter to their family at home. It has been so cute to read what they come up. They all talk about the horrible conditions, getting sea sick, eating hardtack all the time, and the mean explorers. I think it really puts explorer-life into perspective for the students. They seem to really enjoy it! They ask every day... "Who do we get to study today?" 

Along with studying each explorer, we are reading "Pedro's Journal" by Pam Conrad as a class. It is a book about a ship-boy aboard the Santa Maria with Christopher Columbus. I think that the book has made the explorers even more relatable. I would highly recommend it! They are realizing that Columbus might not be the hero that they were taught about when they were little. It has brought up very interesting conversation with Columbus day approaching.

I hope that if you teach exploration, this might give you some new ideas! 

Also, I have linked up with Clutter-Free Classroom's Linky party! Please check out her website to see what other teachers are doing this week in their classrooms!