Monday, January 12, 2015

WHO were the Explorers?

We have jumped into the Age of Exploration with both feet! In the three days we have been in school thus far since Christmas break, yes, you read that right - we have had THREE snow days since getting back on the 5th!  we have gone back in time to Europe during the time of the Renaissance! 
We review that at this time in history, Native Americans are continuing to live their unique lifestyles as previously studied having no idea of what is to come. However, before discussing this eventual collision between the Old World and the New, it is important for students to understand what life in Renaissance Europe was like at this time. WHO were these men that came to the New World? This will help us understand (NOT EXCUSE!) their motives, their beliefs, and regretfully, their actions toward many Native American cultures.
I give the kids a Renaissance name and character bio card which are available on my TPT HERE. Students then study their character and practice name pronunciations ;0) before sharing the bios with the class. 
Characters include Soldiers, Noblemen and women, peasant workers, tradesmen, merchants, traders, cartographers, craftsmen, sailors, captains, wives, mothers, youngest and oldest sons, Bishops, monks, nuns, Christians, Muslims, and more! 

Very quickly, we notice a pattern among our characters. Life was NOT the same as it is today! Plague and diseases ran rampant due to lack of hygiene and knowledge of germs. Women lived with fear of childbirth and men and children often lost wives and mothers. Noblemen owned and inherited lands (well, oldest sons that is) which poor peasant families worked. The majority of the population was uneducated, there were no hospitals or homeless shelters. Practicing other religions was punishable by death - even reading the Bible was illegal in many parts of Europe. Women had little to say about their lives and were often used through marriage to increase their family's wealth and influence. Many people were burned for their beliefs and hundreds of Muslim and Jewish people were persecuted and kicked out of Spain and other European countries. If you somehow managed to make it through all of this, warring between European countries to acquire more land affected almost every group of people.  
All of this we experienced through our characters and charted on our graphs. Our discovery is that most people experienced death in a very personal way, some died, and a few were extremely against groups of people they did not like or felt were not as good.
What does this mean for the Native Americans? These were HARD men, accustomed to poverty, death, war, prejudices, and persecution. Their number one goal = survival. and nothing is going to stand in the way of what they want...

Here are more Explorer Activities: 
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