Lesson Plan

Exploring a New World: England comes to America

The Elizabeth II, one of seven ships that sailed on the 1584 journey to Roanoke Island
The Elizabeth II


Under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, England would finally gain an interest in the New World in an attempt to keep up with Spain and other European powers who had long been exploring and settling the area. This lesson explains why the 1580s was set up for this exploration, and why Roanoke Island was the final destination.


The Learner Will:

  • Understand the causes and effects of Elizabethan Expansion into the New World
  • Explain how Roanoke Island played a key role in this expansion
  • Describe why 1580's Europe was ready for a new explorations


  • Maps illustrating the New World pre- and post-Elizabethan Expansion (found in lesson plan) 
  • Colored pencils 


Download the pdf (see link at top of page)


Students will be able to:

  • Describe 2 reasons why England chose the 1580s for its first try at setting up a new colony at Roanoke
  • Describe 2 reasons why England wanted to set up a colony in the New World
  • Describe 1 reason why Roanoke was the first place England set up a new colony

Park Connections

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is the location of the 1st settlement attempt by England in the United States.