Store your resources in your very own folder.

Sign in or sign up today!

Find out more

Assembly: Famous explorers

Add to My Folder
This item has 4 stars of a maximum 5

Rated 4/5 from 10 ratings (Write a review)

By Roger Smitheducational writer

Introduce the topic of explorers with an inspiring assembly idea

explorer climbing mountain

You will need:

The Poster, ‘Mountain explorer’ and a collection of other large posters and images of famous explorers, for example: Sir Edmund Hillary, Christopher Columbus, Valentina Tereshkova and the Poster ‘Mary Kingsley’.


Tell the children that today’s assembly is about the way explorers face challenges, conquer their fears and are able to achieve great things. The assembly is also about how we can use their achievements as examples of how we can face our own challenges and be successful.

Main assembly

  • Choose two or three famous explorers and ask the children what they think they were famous for, and then briefly tell the children what they did and what they achieved. You could take inspiration from the Dec ‘08 ‘Leading ladies’ article that featured Mary Kingsley. It is important to emphasise the explorers’ courage and bravery as well as their perseverance in the face of all kinds of challenges and hardships.

In the magazine

In the January 2009 issue of Junior Education PLUS read the fantastic creative topic ‘To boldly go…’ and encourage children to embark on their own exciting learning journey, following in the footsteps of famous explorers.

With activities, such as ‘What – no sat nav?’ and ‘This way north’ there are plenty of cross-curricular ideas to play with. Plus, mini biographies on famous explorers, such as Sir Francis Drake, Captain Cook and Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Here’s a mini biography on Herman Crotes (1485-1547) to wet your appetite:

  • Cortés played a central role in the Spanish conquest of the New World in the 16th century, overthrowing the Aztecs in Mexico and claiming it for Spain. He was one of a group of Spanish and Portuguese explorers who are known as the ‘Conquistadors’, and who were both daring and ruthless.
  • As well as finding out about how Cortés triumphed in Mexico, children could look at a map of South America and research which countries speak Spanish, and which speak Portuguese.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary was the first person to climb Everest. He didn’t know whether it was possible or what it would be like because no one had done it before.
  • Christopher Columbus sailed across the seas with tiny ships, poor food and with some of the crew thinking that the world was flat and that they might fall off the end. Once again he kept going – he faced the challenges and persevered, going down in history as the person that discovered America.
  • Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian cosmonaut, was the first woman in space at a time when only a few people had made the journey and when no one really knew what the effects of space travel were. She made 48 orbits of the Earth in 1963.
  • Ask the children what all the explorers had in common and use their answers to suggest that they were all:
    • determined to succeed
    • ready to try to overcome difficult and unknown challenges
    • good at persevering
    • focused on a goal that they wanted to achieve
    • good at working as a team. (Sir Edmund Hillary reached the top of Everest with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay; Christopher Columbus couldn’t have sailed his ships without his crew and Valentina Tereshkova’s rocket would never have been built without a team of scientists.)
  • Tell the children that we should all think of ourselves as explorers and try every day to face and conquer new challenges.
  • If we don’t know how to spell a word, or haven’t learned our eight times-tables, we need to see it as a challenge and persevere until we have overcome the problem. If we are playing a game or doing sports and we know that we need to get better, we need to see this as an obstacle that has to be overcome. Learning a spelling, understanding maths and improving in a sport is not always easy. We might not be able to do it straight away and we might make mistakes. If we do, or if progress is slow, we need to keep going because making mistakes never means that we have failed.
  • Finally, to overcome obstacles, conquer our fears and face challenges, we need to work together with our friends and families. None of the explorers were alone. They all worked together to succeed.

Closing thought or pray

Think how hard climbing a mountain would be; how lonely and frightening it would feel to cross thousands of miles of unknown oceans and how terrifying it would be to sit strapped inside a rocket and be blasted into space. Now, think how we can overcome challenges, conquer our fears and overcome obstacles, just as the famous explorers did. Furthermore, we can reach our goals and targets with our friends and our families right there alongside us!

Online extras!

For more resources on the theme of explorers, don’t forget the stunning “Poster”, ‘Mountain explorer’ Also see pages 35-39 in the January 2009 issue of Junior Ed PLUS for more cross-curricular activities, including ideas from the new The Famous Five’s Survival Guide (including downloadable activity sheets).