Day 4: US History Lesson Plans – The Spanish are coming! The Spanish are Coming! My second full lesson is about Spanish explorers and colonies in North America. Beginning with Christopher Columbus and running through the exploits of Hernando Cortes , this lesson details the vast empire built by Spain during the late 1400s and early 1500s.
Most students have a good prior knowledge base of this material (Columbus, Cortes, etc). I try to keep a swift pace with these early colonial lessons and treat it as a quick review for the deeper material to come (British colonies, constitution, etc.).
1. Mission Statements / Take Roll (5 Minutes)
- I can describe Spanish exploration of North America
- I can describe the Columbian Exchange
- I can identify and explain the motivations of Spanish explorers in North America
- I can summarize the effect Spanish exploration and colonization had on Native American Populations.
2. US History Vocabulary (15 Minutes)
Have Students look up the following US history vocabulary words in their textbook or online. As a change up, you could have students draw a picture that represents the meaning of each term.
- Christopher Columbus
- Columbian Exchange
- Hernando Cortes
3. Go Over Vocabulary (5 min)
Beginning with the student who answered the last question on the previous day, let students read their definition of the vocabulary word out loud to the class. Expand upon and correct their definition.
4. Teacher Presentation (10 – 15 min)
Spanish Explorers Powerpoint: Spanish Explorers and Colonies in North America PowerPoint
Here is a PDF version if you do not have PowerPoint: Spanish Explorers and Colonies in North America Presentation PDF
Topics: Christopher Columbus, The Impact of His Explorations, The Columbian Exchange, Hernando Cortes and the Conquistadors, Spanish Exploration of the American Southwest, The impact of Christianity in the New World, The end of Spanish dominance and the rise of Great Britain.
5. Worksheet / Activity (10-15 min)
This US History Worksheet covers the Spanish Exploration and conquest of North, Central and South America. This is a word search vocabulary puzzle. It also includes a short essay question about Hernando Cortes.
Click this link to download the worksheet: Spanish Influence in the Americas Worksheet
6. Go over Worksheet (5-10 min)
Discuss the vocabulary terms, show students where the words are in the puzzle and discuss the essay question “Is Hernando Cortes a Hero or a Villain.” Remember to start at the student who answered the last question/term in the vocabulary activity at the beginning of class.
7. Video (12 min)
This is an amazing video (and actually entertaining) about the Columbian Exchange. It discusses Christopher Columbus’ impact on Native American cultures, the exchange of people, plants and diseases between cultures and a host of other topics related to Spanish exploration of the Western hemisphere. Lots of history packed into a 12 minute video.
If you don’t think your kids will get into the above video, here is a more serious video about the Columbian Exchange. This is part 1 of a multi-part series. Its a link, embedding was prohibited but the video is open for educational use.
8. Flex Time
If you have any time left in class, you could either assign a section review or have an on topic current event discussion. Potential topics could include illegal immigration and how the current global economy reflects the Columbian Exchange of the 1500s.
That’s my Spanish Explorers lesson plan! Hope you find it useful!
Do you have any good resources for the Columbian Exchange? Do you focus on this part of American History or do you just skip ahead to the British Colonies?
Check back tomorrow for day 5: The British Colonies Lesson Plan!