A fun and engaging way to begin a unit on famous navigators is to get stuck into some role-play with your class. The teacher becomes the captain who doles out hardtack and sauerkraut to the sailors and gives orders to scrub the deck and climb the rigging. Oh and watch out for bugs – you never know what kinds of vermin and weevils you will find in your rations during a long voyage!
As a class, brainstorm a list of all the dangers that could befall a sailor aboard a vessel during this era. Mutiny, shipwreck, scurvy, storms, punishment, hunger are just a few examples to get you started. In smaller groups students can practice a short play or skit, which involves a number of these dangers. After each performance the audience can see if they can identify each of the dangers highlighted in the play.