Amerigo Vespucci Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we help our students learn about Amerigo Vespucci and to understand why 'the Americas' carry that name. We also help our students to learn a bit more about other explorers of the period.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the origin of the name America
  • Summarize the story of Amerigo Vespucci
  • Compare Amerigo Vespucci's explorations to other 15th and 16th-century explorers


60-90 minutes


  • computer access
  • blank maps of the Atlantic world (ensure you have one for each student)

Key Vocabulary

At the conclusion of this lesson, students should be able to identify and define the following vocabulary term:

  • Amerigo Vespucci
  • America

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.


  • Instruct your students to read the lesson Amerigo Vespucci: Biography, Facts, & Voyages
  • Hold a short class discussion (5-10 minutes) to ensure your students understand just how the Americas came to be named after Vespucci. Some example discussion questions include:
    • Why were the Americas named after Vespucci? Who decided this and why?
    • Why wouldn't it have been Columbus? Should it have been? Should it have been someone else?

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