I immediately was faced with a key question. How do you cover this next stage in European history without being overly Eurocentric?
Here are some books I recommend to help students have a more balanced wordwide view of this time period, including names of explorers I never studied in school (like Ibn Battuta and Zheng He) as well as a more honest view of how the Europeans treated the people they met as they explored.
Begin the block with the Kubla Khan book.
Kubla Khan: The Emperor of Everything
by Kathleen Krull
The Great Voyages of Zheng He
by Michael Dorris
Animals Christopher Columbus Saw: An Adventure in the New World
by Sandra Markle
The Sad Night: The Story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss
by Sally Schofer Mathews
for this one it is particularly helpful to create a tableau in the classroom, to help students understand the events of the retreat
The Baldwin Project at mainlesson.com has many books available online for free which you can use for this block, including chapters from Historical Tales: Spanish American by Charles Morris. I do recommend this book if you want to study a few of the European explorers in depth, particularly if you want to compare the attitude of the Spanish conquistadors with Zheng He. Which we did, ultimately adding a Venn diagram to our main lesson books!
THE ISLES OF BEAUTY BEYOND THE SEAS
ALONSO DE OJEDA AND THE CARIB CACIQUE
(Alonso de Ojeda)
THE EARLY DAYS OF A FAMOUS CAVALIER
BALBOA AND THE DISCOVERY OF THE PACIFIC
(Vasco Nunez de Balboa)
PIZARRO AND THE INCA'S GOLDEN RANSOM
GONZALO PIZARRO AND THE LAND OF CINNAMON
CORONADO AND THE SEVEN CITIES OF CIBOLA
(Francisco Vasquez de Coronado)
THE FAMOUS RETREAT OF CORTEZ AND THE SPANIARDS
This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!