These worksheets provide a reading and writing passage on the topic of Famous World Explorers throughout history.

We look mostly at Explorers from a time period seen as The Age of Exploration. While most people have a great argument that people like Neil Armstrong and most of today's scientists are the modern day explorers of their time, we are focusing on an older time period. This took place during 15th to 17th centuries. During this time many countries funded the land discovery process mostly for the concept of empire expansion, but often just for bragging rights. Over the course of their travels explorers would find riches, new land, but most powerful of all new trade routes. As we see through history, it is not your enemies that define you, but your friends and allies that make you what you are or can be.

The worksheets set their sights on ten of the most well known explorers to the likes of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Marco Polo, Juan Ponce de Leon, Hernando Cortez, Vasco Da Gama, Henry Hudson, John Cabot, and John Smith. We also look at the concept of a Manifest Destiny and the Gold Rush Period.

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Christopher Columbus Reading Passage

At that time Europe used safe land passages to China and India to trade valued items such as spices and silk. With the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks the land route to Asia became more difficult. Christopher Columbus and his brothers developed a plan to travel to the Indies by sailing directly west across the ocean.

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Christopher Columbus Questions

He was one of the first Europeans to explore what area? What type of passages did Europe use to trade with India and China? Who did Columbus finally find support from?

Jacques Cartier Reading Passage

The French explorer Jacques Cartier was born in 1491 in the village of St. Malo, Brittany France. He is most remembered for his discovery of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and many of the islands as he approached what is now Canada.

Jacques Cartier Graphic Organizer

Tell what you know of the French Explorer.

Jacques Cartier Multiple Choice Questions

What tribe of Native American Indians helped Cartier and his men to survive?

Jacques Cartier Short Answer Questions

When Cartier returned to France after his first voyage, he reported that the land he found was warm and hospitable but we know that Canada has a cold climate. Why did Cartier make such a mistake?

Biography of Christopher Columbus

It took a lot of courage to think about sailing across the ocean. In those days ships were not sophisticated vessels like we have today and sailors stayed close to land and just sailed along the coastline.

Christopher Columbus Graphic Organizer

How well does Columbus meet his goals?

Christopher Columbus Multiple Choice Questions

Columbus spent five weeks exploring what island? What name did Columbus give to the islands he found?

Christopher Columbus Short Answer Questions

The sailors on Columbus' ships were nervous at being out on the ocean out of sight of land. Would you have traveled with Columbus in those days? Answer why or why not.

Hernando Cortez Reading Passage

Cortez wanted to be truly wealthy and powerful. The governor of Cuba, Diego Velazquez, offered him the opportunity to lead a trading expedition. Cortez himself financed a large force with 11 ships, more than 500 soldiers, hundreds of porters and sufficient sailors. At first all went well when Cortez landed in what is now called Cozumel, Mexico.

Hernando Cortez Graphic Organizer

Who did he hang out with?

Hernando Cortez Multiple Choice Questions

What did the Spanish under Cortez take from the Aztec people?

Hernando Cortez Short Answer Questions

Soldiers on horses who were wearing armor must have looked like creatures from Mars to the native people. Would you have been afraid of the strange soldiers? Explain why or why not.

Vasco Da Gama Reading Passage

While Columbus was searching for a sea route to the Indies, another name for India and other parts of Asia, by sailing west across the Atlantic, Vasco Da Gama was following the path of other Portuguese explorers who were sailing along the coast of Africa.

Vasco Da Gama Graphic Organizer

Where did that all start from?

Vasco Da Gama Multiple Choice Questions

How old was Vasco Da Gama when Christopher Columbus reached America? Vasco Da Gama followed the route of what other famous explorer?

Vasco Da Gama Short Answer Questions

Columbus sailed west on the Atlantic Ocean looking for the Indies. What direction did Da Gama sail on the Atlantic? Why did you think Dias' crew became frightened after going around the Cape of Good Hope?

Henry Hudson Reading Passage

The explorer Henry Hudson first sailed to the North American continent in 1607. His sailing adventure was financed by a group of Englishman seeking to find a shorter route to Asia and spices it contained. Hudson was the first navigator to sail within 10 degrees of the North Pole itself, encountering ferocious winds and huge numbers of giant icebergs.

Henry Hudson Graphic Organizer

Place it in the right spot every time.

Henry Hudson Multiple Choice Questions

What now famous island did Hudson first discover? Which Dutch Corporation did Henry Hudson work for? Which of these ships did Henry Hudson sail to North America?

Henry Hudson Short Answer Questions

Why does this description of Hudson's explorations call a northern passageway mythical? Look up mythical in the dictionary before answering.

John Cabot

John Cabot was born in Italy in 1450 with the given name Giovanni Caboto. Like Christopher Columbus, another early explorer who came from Italy but traveled the world for Spain, John Cabot sailed under a British flag. Even today, all ships must fly the flag of the country where the ship is registered while the ship is at sea.

John Cabot Graphic Organizer

Tell us of the adventures of Italian explorer.

John Cabot Multiple Choice Questions

Cabot tried unsuccessfully to convince the kings of what countries to finance his exploration?

John Cabot Short Answer Questions

Why do you think Giovanni Caboto changed his name to John Cabot? Do you know anyone else who has changed their name? Why did he or she change it?

John Smith

Smith explored the area of Virginia around Jamestown. While exploring he was captured by the Native American chief Powhatan and, according to legend, he was saved from being put to death by the intercession of the chief's daughter, Pocahontas. We know he was captured by Powhaten but we don't know for certain if the rest of this story is true.

John Smith Graphic Organizer

Tell us everything you know and jot down some notes.

John Smith Multiple Choice Questions

In addition to exploring Virginia and New England, where else did John Smith travel in America?

John Smith Short Answer Questions

John Smith was sent to America to find gold. He eventually brought back furs and fish. Do you think that the London Company was happy with the outcome of their investment in the exploration?

Ferdinand Magellan Reading Passage

Ferdinand Magellan is another explorer, mariner and navigator who was born in Portugal, in 1480. Magellan first served the Portuguese King Manual and spent eight years exploring the coast of Africa and the Portuguese Indies. After all his efforts including being wounded and disabled, the king dismissed him from service.

Ferdinand Magellan Graphic Organizer

Today we know that Antarctica is the continent at the southern pole of the world. Unfortunately, Magellan was exploring southward during the South American winter, traveling into colder regions. After great hardship in the frigid climate, Magellan�s fleet finally sailed around the southern tip of South America into the Pacific Ocean; the Strait of Magellan still bears his name today.

Ferdinand Magellan Multiple Choice Questions

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, what continent did Magellan reach?

Ferdinand Magellan Short Answer Questions

How do you think Magellan felt about being dismissed by the King of Portugal? Was he right in switching his loyalty to the King of Spain? Explain why or why not.

Marco Polo Reading Passage

Imagine being just 17 years old and traveling in Asia before the days of airplanes, cars or even trains, long ago in the year 1271. Marco Polo�s father was a businessman from Italy who himself had traveled all the way to China in the continent of Asia which was called Cathay at that time.

Marco Polo Graphic Organizer

The family started out by boat on the Mediterranean Sea, crossed into the Black Sea and sailed to the country of Turkey. Part of Turkey is in Europe and part of it is in Asia. Then the family headed towards China with camels, horses and local helpers. They traveled through the then unfamiliar lands called Iran and Afghanistan. In Iran they went through cold mountains and rocky deserts.

Marco Polo Multiple Choice Questions

How old was Marco Polo when he started his journey to China? Who was the ruler of Cathay when Marco Polo was there?

Marco Polo Short Answer Questions

Mount Everest is part of the Himalaya Mountains but in the country of Tibet. Do you know why Mount Everest is famous?

Juan Ponce de Leon - Reading Worksheet

In 1508 Ponce de Leon then conquered another island, today the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, because he thought there was gold on the island. He became governor of this island in 1509. Ponce de Leon was removed as governor in 1511 but left this position as a wealthy man.

Juan Ponce de Leon Graphic Organizer

Ponce de Leon continued to search for the island of Bimini and when he returned to Puerto Rico he fought with the native people who were rebelling against Spanish rule. When Ponce de Leon returned to Spain in 1514 he was promoted to Captain General by the King of Spain. Ponce de Leon made two more trips from Spain in his continuing search for the island of Bimini and its spring of eternal water.

Juan Ponce de Leon Multiple Choice Questions

Before having his own ships, Ponce de Leon sailed with what other famous explorer?

Juan Ponce de Leon Short Answer Questions

Ponce de Leon thought that Florida was another island. We know now that Florida is attached to the rest of the United States. Why do you think that Ponce de Leon thought that Florida was an island?

Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush took place between 1848 and 1849. It was period of frequent and Frantic migration west. It led to the settlement of California by Americans who had settled on the East Coast. Follow the maze to get to California.

Manifest Destiny

This was a fundamental belief that the United States was destined, or determined by fate, to expand from the East--- the Atlantic Ocean---to the West---the Pacific Ocean. Believers of this strongly felt that it wasn't just good for the country but also something that was meant to happen. This phrase also included the taking over of other territories that would expand the size of America.