Ferdinand Magellan Unit Study

In this unit study you will learn about Ferdinand Magellan and his journey around the world. You will also learn a little about ship building and navigation, scurvy and vitamin C, and sea animals. This unit study is geared for elementary students and planned as a 2 week unit.

The book used for this unit study is Magellan A Voyage Around the World by Fiona MacDonald

Required books for Ferdinand Magellan Unit Study

Fiona MacDonald
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Day 1

1. Read pages 5-7 in Magellan.

2. Discuss the following: Magellan made the voyage around Africa to the Spice Islands which is part of present day Indonesia. He also was the first to sail around America and reach the Pacific Ocean.

3. Draw a map of the world. Include a compass rose to mark your directions. Draw solid lines to represent the equator and prime meridian. Use one color and mark the path around Africa to the Spice Islands. Use another color to mark the path of Magellan around America to the Pacific and on to the Spice Islands. Which path is shorter?

4. What types of goods did traders from Europe seek in China? Porcelain, silk, and spices were prized goods.

5. Pretend we are traders in the Spice Islands. Let's make our own fine porcelain and spices for trading.

Supplies you will need: flour, salt, paint, water, and cinnamon sticks

Porcelain instructions:

  • Mix 2 parts flour, 1 part salt, and 1 part water into a dough.
  • Shape into a vase or bowl.
  • Place dough on aluminum pan and bake at 300° for 1 hour.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Paint with decorations.

Cinnamon tea instructions:

  • Use cinnamon sticks to make cinnamon tea.
  • Heat up water in a sauce pan or microwave dish.
  • Add cinnamon sticks and allow to steep.
  • Drink hot or cold as desired

Day 2

1. Read pages 8-9 in Magellan.

2. One of Magellan's ships was named Vittoria. What does Vittoria mean in English?

3. Discuss ship building. What was the best timber? How did ship builders transport the timber? How did they curve the wood for the ship's hull?

4. Caravels were small ships with triangular shaped sails. Carravacks were large ships with big square sails. Use paper and crayons to draw a caravel and a carrack. Label both of your ships.

5. Discuss the parts of a ship.

6. Write a short essay about ship building. Include how the wood is chosen and transported, what tools are used, and the process of constructing a ship.

Day 3

1. Read pages 10-11 in Magellan.

2. The sailors of Magellan's day used many different instruments to navigate with. We are going to make some navigational instruments of our own.

Hour glass

Supplies you will need: 2 20 ounce soda bottles, super glue, and sand (or salt)

Hour glass instructions:

  • Use superglue to glue the backs of two bottle caps together.
  • Allow to dry.
  • Puncture a hole that goes through both bottle caps.
  • Fill one bottle with desired amount of sand.
  • Put cap on bottle, flip second bottle upside down and screw second cap on to make hour glass.
  • Flip your hour glass over and time how long it takes for the sand to flow through.

Log lines - A log line was a reel of knotted rope traveling behind the ship. The faster it unwound, the faster the ship was traveling. Have you ever heard the term "knots" when sailors talk about how fast they were traveling? Now you know where this term came from.

Lead lines

Lead lines were used to measure depth. Use a bolt or screw and tie a piece of string to it. Use your lead line in your sink or bathtub and measure out different distances.

3. A compass, map, landmarks, sun, and stars were all different ways sailors used to navigate. Write a short story showing how you could use the sun, stars, and landmarks to find your way home.

Day 4

1. Read pages 12-13 in Magellan.

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