Teaching Students About Hernando De Soto
Teaching students about historical figures often puts emphasis on the individual’s impact on the world and their contribution to history. One such individual, Hernando De Soto, remains an essential figure in the age of exploration. Introducing students to his life, adventures, and legacy allows them to better understand the context of early American history and the role played by European explorers during this era.
Hernando De Soto was born in Jerez de los Caballeros, Spain, around 1500. Growing up as the son of a nobleman, he became familiar with stories of Christopher Columbus and other explorers, which developed his interest in exploration. De Soto’s education enabled him to become proficient in reading, writing, and swordsmanship – invaluable skills for his future adventures.
Adventures in the New World
De Soto’s professional career began as an explorer when he joined an expedition led by Pedro Arias Dávila to present-day Panama in 1514. Throughout his journey across Central America, he gained military expertise that helped shape his future expeditions.
In 1532, De Soto joined Francisco Pizarro’s expedition to conquer Peru. The success of this endeavor granted him incredible wealth and the opportunity to finance his expeditions. In 1538, De Soto led his own venture to explore and colonize Florida.
The Exploration of North America
De Soto’s expedition to Florida initiated a significant exploration throughout southeastern North America. He and his team traversed through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas.
Throughout their four-year journey from 1539-1543, De Soto encountered various Native American tribes – some friendly and others hostile. Despite being one of the most skilled Spanish explorers of his time, De Soto’s search for gold and resources ultimately ended in failure. Sadly, he passed away in 1542 due to fever near the Mississippi River.
Hernando De Soto’s life and exploits provide students with valuable insights into the Age of Exploration. His adventures demonstrate both the challenges faced by these explorers and their deep impact on Native American societies throughout the region. Studying De Soto’s life exposes students to different perspectives on early American history – from the indigenous peoples to the colonizers.
1. Role-Play Activities: Divide your class into various groups representing Hernando De Soto, his crew, and Native American tribes they encountered during their journey. Through role-playing, students will have a hands-on experience to understand the historical context and events.
2. Interactive Map Study: Use maps to trace Hernando De Soto’s route throughout North America and teach geographical concepts related to his expedition.
3. Biography Reports: Assign students to research Hernando De Soto’s life, his companions, or Native American leaders he encountered during his journey.
4. Reflection and Discussion: Discuss and reflect on how Hernando De Soto’s life and exploration contributed to history and affected native tribes in America.
Teaching Hernando De Soto’s life provides an opportunity for students to dive deep into early American history, explore the age of exploration, European colonization, and the impacts on indigenous peoples. By incorporating various teaching strategies and engaging activities into your lessons, your students will develop a comprehensive understanding of the explorer’s life, experiences, and long-lasting legacy.