New
New
Year 1

Seafaring 550 years ago

I can describe how European seafarers sailed at the time of John Cabot.

New
New
Year 1

Seafaring 550 years ago

I can describe how European seafarers sailed at the time of John Cabot.

Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. European sailors, like John Cabot, had begun to use boats more similar to those of Zheng He.
  2. The boats were pointed at the front and square at the back, with a rudder to help them steer.
  3. The boats had many sails and used rigging to support and control the sails to help them catch as much wind as possible.
  4. European sailors had also begun to use the compass to navigate, like the Chinese before them, and the astrolabe.
  5. European sailors, like John Cabot, used lead lines to work out how deep the water they were sailing in was.

Common misconception

Pupils may think because European seafarers were using the instruments, they invented them too.

European seafarers didn't invent the astrolabe or compass. Many ancient people navigated by the stars like the Polynesians and Vikings.

Keywords

  • Rigging - a ship's sails are held up and controlled by ropes known as rigging

  • Astrolabe - sailors used an astrolabe to calculate how far north or south they were by measuring the position of the Sun

  • Lead line - a lead line is a length of rope with a piece of lead attached to it

Make the connection between an astrolabe and the stars by asking pupils to think of other words beginning 'astro'. Do they think of an 'astronaut' in space?
Teacher tip

Licence

This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).

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6 Questions

Q1.
Where did seafarer John Cabot travel?
to the Americas
Correct answer: across the Atlantic Ocean
Canada
Q2.
Where did seafarer Zheng He travel?
Correct answer: around the Indian Ocean
China
across Asia
Q3.
Where did John Cabot think he was travelling to?
the Americas
Africa
Correct answer: Asia
Q4.
Which type of boat does not have sails?
galley
longboat
Correct answer: canoe
junk
Q5.
What feature of Chinese junks helped them to turn around or change direction easily?
oars
Correct answer: rudder
sails
wheel
Q6.
What navigation tool were the Chinese explorers very good at using?
stars
map
Correct answer: compass
sun shadows

6 Questions

Q1.
On a ship, what is rigging?
Correct answer: all the ropes that control the sails
all the sails
all the oars and oarsmen
Q2.
Which of these is a type of star chart?
compass
map
Correct answer: astrolabe
Q3.
Which of these do sailors use to measure how deep water is?
Correct answer: a lead line
a metre ruler
a tape measure
Q4.
Who first used a compass to navigate at sea?
Vikings
Correct answer: Chinese explorers
European explorers
Q5.
550 years ago, what did European sailors add to their boats to help them to turn more easily?
more sails
rigging
Correct answer: a rudder
Q6.
Sailing boats from 550 years ago had many large to catch the wind.
Correct Answer: sails, Sails

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