Tag Archives: water cup

Spanish Galleons and Cabrillo


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Our grade 4 students learn about early explorers as part of their social studies curriculum. For this lesson, we discussed Juan Cabrillo and his discovery of San Diego in 1542.

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I showed the students pictures of Spanish Galleons and we discuss their size and what they were used for-exploration and war. As well as things that were transported in them, where the captain would stay, the kinds of jobs they had. We also talk about a ship’s ballast as we have a location here called Ballast Point that once had a lighthouse and was the location that Cabrillo stopped at when he discovered San Diego.

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One favorite fact is that if they transported four legged animals, those animals would often be in slings so they didn’t break their legs. They laugh when they learn that the ships were slow and that a person could walk about as fast as the ship could sail. Students are impressed by the size of these ships. For a large galleon, they could use up to 200 oak trees and the weight is the equivalent of 2 jumbo jets. Whew!

The students painted these images in tempera. Some painted the water first, others chose to paint the ship and then the water.

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The requirements: galleon shape with 3 masts and a bowsprit, crow’s nest optional. No white paper showing unless it is the sail. Could be sunset, mid day or stormy weather. I love that they are all so different. Great job 4th graders!

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One of the best parts of the day was when one student took her water cup and put it into the sponge tray making the water less susceptible to spillage. I LOVE when kids come up with brilliant new ways to do things. Now why didn’t I think of that?

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