The Age of Exploration

The age of exploration was exciting. To find spices, gold, and new treasures across the open sea, and hopefully a water passage to the East.The wealthy often commissioned crews to find treasures for them, but just like those who traveled west to dig for gold in the 19th century, great treasure was rarely found.

But life was even more difficult on the ship. Disease was common, as was violence. Malnutrition led to many of these diseases, as well as ignorance and general conditions on the ship. It was cold, dirty, and bug infested. And the captain had it little better. While he (and a few times she), may have had his own quarters, a crew could turn on him at an time. Now we travel by boat for luxury, then it was out of necessity.

Based on these details, have your students write a story or a diary or act out a skit about the life of a sailor. Why did someone become a sailor? What was so bad at home that this was the best life? How did this sailor survive, or die, at sea?


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