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Famous Explorers

Social Studies, Grade 3


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Study Guide Famous Explorers Social Studies, Grade 3

FAMOUS EXPLORERS Who are some famous explorers we should know? Leif Ericsson, born sometime around 1000 A.D.: Leif the Lucky was a Viking explorer who sailed to what may have been North America. He called it Vinland. Marco Polo, b. Venice 1254: He wrote The Book of Marvels about his travels. He described great cities in Asia. He described such riches as porcelain, coal, gunpowder, silk, and paper money. Christopher Columbus, b. 1451 Italy: He left Spain looking for a water route to India with three ships, Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria. In 1492 he landed on an island in the Bahamas which he named San Salvador. He thought he had reached India so he called the natives Indians. Vasco da Gama, b. 1460 Portugal: In 1497 he was the first European to sail around Africa to India and back to Portugal. Ferdinand Magellan, b. 1480 Portugal: He left Spain in 1519 looking for a passage to India through America. He named the Pacific Ocean because he found it to be calm and peaceful. He died in the Philippines but his ship, the Victoria, sailed around the world. Hernando de Soto, b. 1500 Spain: He left Spain looking for gold and jewels in the New Land. In 1541, he was the first European to see what we call the Mississippi River. Juan Ponce de Leon, b 1460: Left Spain looking for riches and a Fountain of Youth. He came to a “land of flowers” and named it La Florida, which he claimed for Spain. Henry Hudson, b. 1565 England: In his ship, the Half Moon, he sailed up the Hudson River in 1609 looking for a way to the Pacific. He also explored much of the Arctic Ocean. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at
Jacques Cartier, b. 1491 France: Searching for a northwest passage to India, he discovered the St. Lawrence River and created French settlements in what is now Canada. Robert Cavelier b.1643 France: He wanted to find a route across America to the riches of Asia. From Montreal, he sailed down the St. Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. He claimed all the land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains for France. He named it Louisiana for King Louis XIV. He was made a French nobleman with the name Sieur de La Salle. Capt. James Cook, b. 1728 England: In 1768, he was the first to sail around Australia, and discovered the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). He was the first ship captain to stop the disease called scurvy by giving his crew fresh fruit. In 1773, he sailed to Antarctica on his ship, the Resolution, which could not get through the ice. Daniel Boone, b. 1734 Pennsylvania: A pioneer who explored the frontier and helped build the Wilderness Road to Kentucky in 1769. Meriwether Lewis, b. 1774 Virginia, and William Clark, b. 1770: In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson sent the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Louisiana Territory to learn about plants, animals, climate and geography as they searched for a waterway to the Pacific Ocean. Guided by Sacajawea, a Shoshone translator and peacemaker, they sailed up the Missouri River, rode over the Rocky Mountains, and sailed down the Columbia River to Oregon territory. They reached the Pacific in 1806. Kit Carson, b. 1809 Kentucky: He became a fur trapper and hunter in New Mexico. In 1845 he guided settlers to California. Nat Palmer, b. 1799: America’s earliest Antarctic explorer. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at
Robert E. Peary, b. 1856 and Matthew Hensen, b. 1866: They led the first expedition to the North Pole in 1909. Roald Amundsen, b. 1872 Norway: He used huskies to pull dogsleds and reached the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911. He also flew over the North Pole in a blimp in 1926. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, b. 1910 France: He was an underwater explorer who invented the aqualung which supplied oxygen to divers. Captain of a research vessel, the Calypso, he explored the oceans and had a television show about the oceans. Neil Armstrong, b. 1930: First astronaut to walk on the moon, in 1969. Edwin Aldrin, b. 1930: The second astronaut to walk on the moon, on the same mission with Armstrong. Michael Collins, b. 1930: The pilot of the Command Module for Apollo 11, he circled the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin explored it. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at
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