The New World

Since the earliest times, people have speculated about the world in which they live. Inspired by curiosity, wealth, the quest for scientific knowledge, or the desire to find a better place to live, explorers have charted the Earth's surface by both land and sea.

Beginning with the epic voyage of Columbus in 1492, Europeans, in an attempt to find a western route to India, stumbled onto a continent which they hailed as a "new world." Although these explorations opened up the Western Hemisphere to European settlement, they spelled disaster for the native inhabitants of the American continent.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

1492: An Ongoing Voyage
This virtual exhibit from the US Library of Congress addresses the following questions: What was life like in the Western Hemisphere and the Mediterranean before 1492? What spurred European expansion? How did European, African and American peoples react to each other? What were some of the immediate results of these contacts? The exhibit also examines the first sustained contacts between American people and European explorers, conquerors and settlers from 1492 to 1600.
A Treasure Trove of North American Exploration
This site shows that the exploration of North America was really a long, arduous process that took place over hundreds of years. In terms of geographical discoveries, it took more than four centuries of exploration, from the time of the arrival of the first Europeans, to discover and traverse a navigable passage across North America linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans--the famous Northwest Passage.
American Memory: Discovery and Exploration
This site documents the discovery and exploration of the Americas with both manuscripts and published maps. These maps reflect the European Age of Discoveries, dating from the late 15th century to the 17th century when Europeans were concerned primarily with determining the outline of the continents as they explored and mapped the coastal areas and the major waterways.
Ships of Discovery
In the last two decades, Ships of Discovery's research program has searched for, tested, and excavated several early European shipwreck sites in the Americas. At this site, you can learn more about the ships dating back to the era of Columbus--and the modern attempts to discover their remains.

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People To See

New World Explorers for Kids
Here you can meet various adventurers who explored the new world.
World Explorers
Get the know the adventurous men who explored North America.
World Explorers
Get to know the people in history who blazed the trail in going to new places.
The Columbus Navigation Homepage
This site provides fascinating information about the technical data Columbus used during his explorations. This site includes explanations of dead reckoning, navigation, as well as insights into the length of a league and the importance of longitude.

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Things To Do

Exploration of North America
The History Channel helps us understand the various treks to explore the new world.
An Adventure to the New World
Acting as an agent of the King and Queen, set forth on a journey to the new world to claim land, locate a new trading route, and bring back valuables. Use the links provided to create an "Explorer's Notebook" filled with information about your voyage.
Become a Spice Trader
Check out this online simulation that takes you back to the Renaissance and casts you as the owner of a large sailing ship who sails around the world trading goods with other countries.
Virtual Exploration Society
At the site of the Virtual Exploration Society, you can read about exciting true stories of explorers who have risked life and limb in the pursuit of knowledge. You can also join in various virtual explorations. Paddle down the Amazon with Percy Fawcett, drive a dogsled to the North Pole with Peary and Henson, or risk an ancient Egyptian curse with Howard Carter as he opens the Tomb of King.

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Teacher Resources

Explorers of the Americas
This is a learning activity from National Geographic.
The Age of Exploration Curriculum Guide
Teachers can use this curriculum guide in a variety of ways. The curriculum weaves together visual images, video, and text, as well as materials that can be downloaded or printed for transparencies, presentations, or reports. It includes lesson plans, vocabulary, links to related web sites, and guides to other reference materials.

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  • Adler, David A. A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus. Holiday House, 1992.
  • De Kay, James T. De Kay. Meet Christopher Columbus (Step-Up Biographies). Random House, 1989.
  • Fritz, Jean. Around the World in a Hundred Years: From Henry the Navigator to Magellan. Putnam, 1994.
  • Fritz, Jean. Where do you think You're Going Christopher Columbus? G.P. Putnams Sons, 1980.
  • Grant, Neil. The Discoverers. Arco Publishing Inc, 1979.
  • Guy, J.A. Drake & the 16Th-Century Explorers (Great Explorer Series). Barrons Juveniles, 1998.
  • Kemoun, Hubert Ben, et al. The Adventures of the Great Explorers (Megascope Series). Barrons Juveniles, 1999.
  • Krensky, Stephen. Christopher Columbus (Step into Reading, a Step 2 Book). Random House, 1991.
  • Maestro, Betsy, and Giuhio Maestro. Exploration and Conquest: the Americas After Columbus: 1500-1620. Mulberry Books, 1994
  • Marzollo, Jean and Steven Bjorkman. In 1492. Scholastic Trade, 1993.
  • Sis, Peter. Follow the Dream. Dragonfly, 1996.
  • Starkey, Dinah. Scholastic Atlas of Exploration. Scholastic, 1993.