Fifth grade students learn about the early explorers as part of their CA Social Studies curriculum. To tie into the unit on exploration, I had the students paint caravels. Caravels were smaller than a galleon, had a different sail configuration and could be maneuvered easier.
I showed the students pictures of caravels and they looked at information about these ships. They were allowed to paint the ships with different sail configurations and could choose the time of day. It was a good lesson to introduce sgraffito and how to use a dry brush to make foam.
Because I am not a ship historian, I found this resource to answer student questions that were not in the social studies book: http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~vaucher/History/Ships_Discovery/