Bullet points for brevity:
> Exploration is a pretty fun unit to teach, if only because I can turn the classroom into a mini-world, using thumbtacks and yarn to trace where Columbus, Coronado, Amerigo, Polo, and others traveled.
> It's funny that in the Making a New Nation text by McGraw Hill, there is a little snippet that describes a Chinese explorer. It really does make exploring into this glamorous thing. Which it can be. But it doesn't really describe why some nations (i.e. China, Japan) didn't do much exploring around this time. Well, another subject for another grade level, I guess.
> It would also be an excellent tie-in to visit some sort of maritime museum. Then students can actually see things like sextants, and old world compasses.
> Reading maps is huge. In the age where cell phones are locatable by GPS, there is still nothing like using your own head to figure out where you are. I would love to paint a map of the world on the playground blacktop and have students race to see who can go the fastest from nation to nation.