Year 4 Explorers

Each subject guide has its own difficulties.  In this case it is finding accessible information for a younger age group and the fact that I am not a primary school teacher! Would love some feedback! 

 What is missing from this map?

The World as known to Europe about the year 1418 Source: David B. Scott, A School History of the United States, from the discovery of America to the year 1880. (New York, NY: American Book Company, 1884) retrieved from

Australian Curriculum – History – Year 4

The journey(s) of AT LEAST ONE world navigator, explorer or trader up to the late eighteenth century, including their contacts with other societies and any impacts.

Elaborations (these are not compulsory)

  1. identifying key individuals and groups who established contacts with Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania during the age of discovery; examining the journey of one or more of these explorers (for example Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan) using internet mapping tools, and examining their impact on one society
  2. using navigation maps to reconstruct the journey of one or more explorers
  3. investigating networks of exchange between different groups of people

There is a LOT of scope here.  For the purposes of this guide I will provide broader exploration hints and links and then focus on Christopher Columbus. Others could be easily explored through following the links in the general section.

Key search terms –( European) Explorers, Age of Exploration/Discovery, names of Explorers/Navigators


A painting of Columbus’ ships – The Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Niña, retrieved from

Starting point

Where would I start with Year 4?  With a picture story book! Check out your library catalogue or these links for ideas-

In terms of historical information, start with the encyclopedias that you have access to through your school or local library (get your students to join!). World Book and Encyclopedia Britannica have age appropriate sections, multimedia links and even the option of the text being read aloud.

Search terms –  Biographies,  or use Exploration, Navigators or name of explorer (eg Christopher Columbus etc)

General sites

My Favourite Site – Tudor Exploration provides a fun, interactive experience on exploration. 

RECOMMENDED by a user of this blog is Student’s guide to the Age of Exploration

Who Goes There: European Exploration of the New World This site was built by students of Bartlett Elementary school in 2000, whilst it is not cutting edge in terms of format it is easy to use,  although, it  would probably suit more able Year 4 students . Why did Europeans explore during the Age of Exploration in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries? Find out when you join our voyage of exploration along with famous Portuguese, Spanish, English, and French explorers. Hear them tell their stories through interviews, autobiographies, biographies, and journals. from the KidsKnowIt Network, is packed with articles from early man, to recent historical events. It has an extensive, easy to read section on exploration. BUT,  it is full of distracting advertisements.

The Mariners Museum has a very informative site on the age of exploration covering biographies, maps, tools of navigation etc.  Some of the information would be accessible for Year 4 but other sections are very text dense.

Historical maps of discovery ( Florida Educational Technology Clearinghouse) Useful to show the known world

Interactive Travel Maps (GOOD Magazine) Click on the explorer to find where they went and some basic information.

European Voyages of Exploration (Univ. of Calgary) Not suitable for students.  Good if teachers or parents want to learn more.

Voyage of Exploration : Discovering New Horizons  is another student written thinkquest webpage. It follows in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest explorers, reliving their adventurous expeditions into the unknown.

Age of Exploration Links from AP Euro History –list and links would need a thorough review before you passed them onto Year 4.  Would be good for older students

Enchanted learning provides brief biographies of explorers associated with Australia

Kathi Mitchell provides an extensive list of explorer links (similar to what I have done)

Royal Museums Greenwich provide quality, brief information on many aspects of maritime history.

Queensland Maritime Museumprovides a good resource supporting primary teachers in this topic

State Library of NSW provides this excellent resource on the Great South Land.  With teacher assistance it would be useful.


The BBC has a number of useful sites. In order

Christopher Columbus and his legacy  – for teachers and parents.  Not suitable for Year 4.

Images of Christopher Columbus and his Voyages – (Library of Congress)

Christopher Columbus—Extracts from Journal  – students would need masses of help!

Ahoy Columbus! A Cyberhunt. The activity looks approachable for Year 4 although I am not that sure about the references.


There are a number of useful videos that your school library should be able to get through Clickview or similar.  Schools also have a different copyright situation to me (as they pay money to use/record etc as an educational institution).

On YouTube you will find various useful videos including

Turning Points in History – Age of Exploration, Uploaded by AllHistories on Sep 29, 2009, A short three minute introduction to exploration.

Horrible Histories Series 4 Ep6 Part1 Christopher Columbus discovers the Caribbean islands in 1492, but he was a little confused. I love Horrible Histories – they do have their own Youtube Channel and it is currently on ABC3 in Australia

AHC ~ Christopher Columbus ~ Full video uploaded by theAHCchannel on Nov 13, 2011 In this program, learn about Christopher Columbus. With determination, this starry-eyed young man’s dream of reaching China ends with the discovery of a new world

Assignment Discovery: Christopher Columbus Describes the routes of Christopher Columbus voyages. Dry, possibly difficult but short (see associated videos on Magellan etc)

The Age of Exploration [Part 1 of 3]

Games and activities


Australian Maritime Museum

Heavens! My Ship!  Not sure about this resource – I haven’t played it.  It is from Canada.  A game to travel through the 17th century in search of one of the great explorers of New France. With the help of period maps, ancient engravings and excerpts from his stories, relive the epic of this valiant character. Highly interactive, this elaborate game with its splendid computer graphics saves your game to leave you time to learn.

East India Company – Why were traders willing to risk their lives?  Did they make money? Play these games and find out.

Mr Donn is always useful games and activities on topics

Want to teach your students about the problems of researching on the internet?

Check out  this web site, which contains fictional biographies of world explorers, and a series of lessons designed to introduce students to the idea that the Internet is a less reliable source of information than print sources, and while there is an abundance of information available at our fingertips, researchers need to think critically about the facts found there.


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