European Explorers Travel to Asia

A reading comprehension lesson about how the Europeans traveled to and traded with Asia. Includes printable teaching lesson worksheet.



• Students will be able to identify Marco Polo and other European explorers who traveled to Asia.

• Students will be able to define the word navigation.

• Students will be able to explain why Europe wanted to find a direct route to Asia by sea.

• Students will be able to identify and describe significant events in the European search for a direct route to Asia.

• Students will be able to explain how the search for a direct route to Asia by sea led to the discovery of America.


Suggested Grades:

4th Grade - 5th Grade - 6th Grade

Lesson Procedure:

Print the reading comprehension passage and questions (see below).

Students should read the passage silently, then answer the questions. Teachers may also use the text as part of a classroom lesson plan.


Lesson Excerpt:

Hundreds of years ago, European traders traveled east to trade with Asia. Asian goods were very valuable in Europe. One famous European merchant was an Italian named Marco Polo, who was born around 1254 in Venice, Italy. When he was seventeen years old, Marco Polo traveled to China with his father. At that time, the only known route to China was by land. After 25 years in China, the Polos returned to Italy and told stories of the riches they had found. No one believed them, so had a feast and surprised their guests with displays of jewels from Asia.

During Marco Polo's time, Italians and Asians met in Constantinople (now part of Turkey) to trade goods. Italian traders brought lumber, wool and wheat to exchange with Chinese traders for silk, gold and spices. The demand for goods from Asia was very high in Europe. Because of this, the prices for Asian goods kept going up. Italian merchants became very rich selling goods they brought back from Constantinople. Other Europeans became jealous of the wealthy Italian merchants. Many wanted to find a more direct route to Asia by sea. That way, people could buy Asian goods directly from China more quickly and less expensively.



Lesson Printables:

Print this printable worksheet for this lesson:

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