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Adaptor Grants Home:
Teachers Network: Adaptor Grants: Age of Exploration: A Class Timeline

Original Project by Martha McIntyre

Adapted By:
Danielle Taylor & Rebecca Sacra
P.S. 261

New York, NY
Zipporiah Mills

Danielle Taylor is in her fourth year of teaching as a fourth grade teacher.  She has a Masters degree in elementary education.  Rebecca Sacra graduated in 2004 from NYU with a Masters in Childhood Special Education.  Rebecca is a fourth grade CTT teachers at PS 261.


We spent a full week beforehand exploring the geography of the world as the explorers knew it as opposed to how we know it today, and what would motivate explorers to take these long, arduous journeys. Rather than posters, students created Explorer Trading Cards. Individual timelines were created on index cards (with each explorer having a different colored border) and the class timeline was assembled by putting all the index cards in order and on display. Rather than doing the “World at the Time” piece, we focused on one motivator-spices-and did a mini-investigation (adapted from National Geographic).

Instructional Objectives

Students will address the following questions:

  • Who were the explorers?

  • Where were they exploring?

  • WHY were they exploring?

Technology Integration

Students used laptops to research a particular explorer in partnerships. Students also used laptops to do a guided exploration of spices and spice trade. In addition, students worked in computer class creating explorer cards with their research.


Students were assessed by observation of their use of time during laptop sessions and on the completeness of the guided research. The effort and completeness of Explorer Cards were assessed as well as participation in the class timeline.

Tips for Teachers

I made the decision to do a more concrete hands-on timeline because it seemed developmentally appropriate. For the research, it was helpful to have them work in partnerships. I highly recommend doing hands-on exploring of the world’s geography such as labeling continents, comparing to Ptolemy’s map, and a fold a map down the Atlantic Ocean to understand the idea of traveling west to get to The East.

Teacher-Created Worksheet Download (Word document)

Student Work Samples

Click on each thumbnail to see a full-screen version.


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