VA SOL: Explorers

As the History SOL sneaks up on us, I am preparing my kiddos in any way that I can! Although in the big picture standardized tests do not truly show how much a child has learned, they are unfortunately a vital part of life. The kids will be taking these until the are adults, so we might as well get into the swing of them now so that they can feel secure and confident in their testing abilities.

One of the topics that I notice is particularly difficult for my third-graders is explorers. In Virginia, the kids need to know Christopher Newport, Christopher Columbus, Juan Ponce de Leon, and Jacques Cartier. All their names sound similar (Chris, Chris, Cartier, Columbus, BLAHHHHHHH), and all their sailing intentions were pretty darn similar. Minus Juan and his hope to find the fountain of youth. Nice try, Juan. #fountainofyouthfail

Oh, Jacques! Such a charmer.
Here's something I did in the past. In student teaching we made these cute explorer brochures. This picture of the brochure is my fave. Whenever I explain Jacques Cartier to the kids I try to talk in a French accent and tell them to picture him wearing a beret and french fries. Totally ridiculous, but whatevs, it works! They always remember from that point on! 

Explorers Brochure!

Impacts of Europeans on American Indian

This year, the kids and I created a big mural for the hallway. I am stoked with how it turned out. Today on the kids' morning work I wrote questions like "Where did Christopher Columbus land?" and "Who wanted to discover the fountain of youth?" A couple of my kiddos raised their hand and proclaimed they did not remember. I smiled and said "GO OUTSIDE!!" They ran out there and found the answer! My teammates are going to bring their kid to my wall for a "field trip" to study all the different explorers. 

This mural took a little bit of effort in the morning for me to start, but probably about half an hour at most. I ran to the storage room and grabbed some butcher paper (please excuse the sloppy edges...). I taped white butcher paper to my SmartBoard, then found black-and-white versions of each explorer. Using a sharpie I drew the outline of each explorer's head. Christopher Columbus clearly should have been larger.... WHOOPS. Sorry, Chris. Then I traced a map to place in the center.

I let the kids color the pictures after their morning work. The coloring took about 20 minutes, but the kids were super excited. We don't color much in the classroom, so it was a fun and relaxing break. Each kid also got to write one of the vital pieces of information from the SOL on a sentence strip. During lunch I constructed this beauty, and the kids LOVED reading and looking at it when they returned. What do you think?!? It can easily be done with any person that the kids need to remember!

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