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Dead Reckoning: Champlain in America


Found in: arts, math, science, social studies, 6-8, 9-12

Dead Reckoning: Champlain in America is a prolific collection of lessons and resources tailored as a companion website for an hour-long, animated documentary about the life and expeditions of Samuel de Champlain: cartographer; explorer; visionary; the founder of Quebec.

The Journey features an interactive map that traces Champlain’s seven trips to explore North America from 1603 to 1616. Students can launch the map, choose one of the expeditions, and follow in Champlain’s footsteps. The map includes links to excerpts from Champlain’s journal, Amerindian names, student lesson plans, clips from the film, and map storyboards.

Through the Educators portal, there are 12 lesson plans for students in grades 6-12. Students and teachers can explore rich themes that are connected to Champlain: places he visited; links to the interactive map; history; geography; language arts; mathematics; science; technology; the arts.

  • One lesson, Alliances in the Classroom, asks students to observe alliances at school, note non-verbal cues involved in making alliances, and create non-verbal scenarios to demonstrate what they learned from their observations.
  • In Cartography and Navigation in the Time of Champlain: Dead Reckoning ( PDF, 32 KB, 15pg.), students create and actually use the instruments as they were used in the 16th and 17th centuries for navigation and cartography to determine speed, latitude and altitude, and to map a location.

The Resources portal provides journals, fact sheets and biographies about other explorers relevant to these lessons.

The complete animated documentary, around which these resoures were built, runs 60 minutes and is available for sale. It also may be in local or school libraries. The clips included on the website (about half the total video) are connected to these lesson plans. Another full-screen accessible source of these clips can be found at Dead Reckoning: Champlain in America.

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