The Adventures of Hernando de Soto as told by survivor Juan Rodriguez Study Guide


Prepared by Cathy Kaemmerlen

Andrew Crigler is a poet, teaching artist, director, and actor from Atlanta.  He received his BA in Theatre and Performance studies from Kennesaw State University with a minor in dance.  He works as a freelance theatre professional and has performed with the Alliance Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, Serenbe Playhouse, Collective Project Inc, and Telltale Theatre.  He has taught theatre classes at the Alliance, GA Ensemble Theatre, GA Shakespeare, Fabrocation Theatre Co, Forefront Arts, and Jitterbug Performing Arts. He is currently the backstage director at Dad’s Garage Theatre.

This is a true adventure story of Conquistador Hernando de Soto’s exploration of La Florida, into Georgia, the entire Southeastern United States, and ending at the mouth of the Mississippi River where he met his death.  Told by survivor, Juan Carlos Rodriguez, one of fourteen on the expedition who made it back to Spain, Rodriguez looks back on his times with de Soto, interactions with the Native Americans, and search for gold and glory for Spain.  With slides, audience participation, authentic chain mail and a conquistador helmet, learn what it was like to spend over four years of your life, facing dangers and the unknown in conquering and exploring the southeastern part of the United States.

.To learn why the Spanish wanted to explore, conquer, and settle La Florida and the Southeastern United States
. To learn what de Soto and his 700 men accomplished during their four year journey
.To learn about their dealings with the Native cultures
.To learn about the discovery of the Mississippi River
.To learn about the adventures and dangers of being a conquistador and an explorer of the New World

.Read a biography of Hernando de Soto.
.List four of his accomplishments
.List two of his failures.

.Why was de Soto’s exploration considered to be a failure?
.Talk about the treatment by de Soto and his men of the Native Americans.  Would you have treated them differently?
.What were some of the consequences of the treatment by de Soto and his men of the Native peoples?
.How did what de Soto and his men do affect you?

cavalry:  soldiers who fight on horseback
chain mail: a kind of protective clothing or armor made up of many tiny rings linked together
chieftain:  the leader of a group of people
colonize:  to move into another place and set up settlements
conquistador: a conqueror, especially one of the Spanish conquerors of Mexico and Peru in the 1500’s
empire:  a large area ruled over by one person
expedition: a journey or exploration taken on by a group of persons for a specific purpose
feral: a wild animal, especially one who escapes from captivity
hidalgo:  a cross between a medieval night and a country squire, of modest wealth.
hostages:  people taken captive until a certain condition is fulfilled
immortal:  living forever, as a Greek god like Zeus
interpreter:  a person who translates language as it is spoken
legacy: something handed down; what you leave behind after death; your claim to fame
malaria:  a fever sometimes deadly caused by the bite of a certain type of mosquito
Mutiny:  a rebellion by soldiers against their commanding officers
noble:  belonging to the aristocracy or ruling order
palisades:  fences made of wooden stakes
Ransom:  money that is demanded for the release of a prisoner
Shipwright:  someone who builds ships
Smallpox:  a contagious disease causing fevers and postules
Tack:  equipment used to ride a horse, such as bridles, stirrups, and saddles

Travel with the Great Explorers:  Hernando de Soto by Rachel Stuckey, Crabtree Pubs
The DeSoto Chronicles:  The Expedition of Hernando de Soto to North America in 1539-1543, The University of Alabama Press, 1993.
Georgia Historical Society website:  Hernando de Soto’s Featured Historical Figure page:  www.georgia
Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun by Charles Hudson, UGA Press, 1997
Catholic Encyclopedia: Hernando de Soto-NEW ADVENT


1492:  Christopher Columbus reaches North America and claims the land for Spain
1496:  Hernando de Soto was born in Jerez de Cabrello, Spain
1513:  Ponce de Leon explores La Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth
1514:  Pedro Arias Davila leaves Spain on an expedition to Panama
1519:  De Soto particpates in the conquest of Panama
1520:  De Soto’s shipping company builds ships for Pizzaro’s conquest of Peru
1524:  De Soto helps Cordosa conquer Nicaragua and leads own expedition to El Salvador
1525:  De Soto elected mayor of Nicaragua
1527:  Albar Nunez de Vaca sails with the La Florida expedition of de Narvaez. De Vaca is one of four survivors of the expedition.
1528:  De Soto and Ponce de Leon become two of the wealthiest men in Central America
1531:  De Soto is a Lieutenant in Pizzaro’s expedition to Peru
1532:  De Soto leads the expedition to the Incan capital of Calamarca
1535:  De Soto returns to Spain
1536:  De Soto marries Isabel de Bobadilla
1537:  King of Spain grants de Soto the rights to explore and settle La Florida; named Governor of Cuba
1539: De Soto and his men set sail for La Florida from Cuba
1540: De Soto and his men travel through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.  Several violent encounters with the Native Americans.
1541:  De Soto and his men become the first Europeans to cross the Mississippi River
1542:  De Soto dies from a fever, probably malaria
1543:  Alvardo and the remaining men sail down the Mississippi River eventually ending up in Texas and in Mexico. Only half are still alive.
around 1548:  Juan Rodriguez, one of 14 survivors, returns to Spain

Ruby Bridges Study Guide

prepared by Cathy Kaemmerlen

SS1H1 a and b, SS1G1 d, SS1CG1

Mama Koku/Donna “Kokumo” Buie is a Master Storyteller for children of all ages, performing professionally for over 17 years.  Graduating with honors from North Carolina Central University, she majored in theatre arts with concentrations in performance and education.  She has been the official storyteller for the National Black Arts Festival’s Children’s Education Village and performs at the Wren’s Nest, MLK Center, Fulton County Teaching Museums, and Peach Seed Storytellers.

What was it like to go to first grade at a school where you were the only person of color?  Meet Ruby Bridges, the first African American student to attend the William Frantz School in New Orleans, LA in 1960.  The Supreme Court had just ruled against segregation in America’s schools.  With the support of her mother, her faith in the goodness of people,  and her religious faith, Ruby was the first to test this ruling at this New Orleans school.  Accompanied by US marshals, she faced significant challenges just entering the school with mobs of angry protesters.  But her friendship with her teacher, Barbara Henry, helped her to persevere.  Learn about segregation in the 60’s in America and Ruby’s story.  Her message is that we are all connected and share a common heart.

-To learn about the contributions of Ruby Bridges to open the doors for children of color to enter public schools
-To learn basic facts about segregation, discrimination, integration
-To learn how her courage as well as her parents and her teacher, Barbara Henry, helped her to
persevere through her first grade year
-To learn what it was like to face discrimination in the 1960’s in America.
-To learn how she was a role model for respect for others, courage, equality, tolerance, perseverance, and commitment.

-While we are different, we are all the same.  We are connected.
-Schools should be mixed and diverse—racism doesn’t have a place in the minds and hearts of our country.

-Racism is passed on and taught.  Children don’t start out as racists.
-Every child is a unique human being fashioned by God.”
-Everything we do should be done with LOVE.
-It takes courage to make change.
-Love thy neighbor is the key commandment.
-We the people form a more perfect union when we do that together.  We must find common ground and put our best ideas forward.
-Experience comes to us for a purpose.
-It is the content of your character that matters most.

-Read a biography of Ruby Bridges.
-Talk about how your first day of first grade was different from hers and was similar.
-How do you think she felt her first day of school?
-How would you feel if you had to stay in your classroom all day and couldn’t even go outside for recess or to the cafeteria?

-Do you think Ruby Bridges is an American hero?  Why or why not?  What qualifications should a hero have?
-Would you have gone to the William Frantz school knowing no one wanted you there?
-How did her teacher’s attitude affect Ruby?
-Why did the other teachers shun Mrs. Henry?
-Why do you think those “cheerleaders” protesters felt so strongly about not letting Ruby into their school
-Why do you think Ruby started her foundation and after school program?  Why did she go back to William Frantz Elementary many years later?
Bullying:  to use greater strength or influence to force someone to do what they want
Mob:  a large disorderly crowd
Courage:  the quality of mind that enables one to face dancer and fear with confidence and bravery.
To judge:  to form an opinion or evaluation
Federal marshal:  a U.S. federal officer of a judicial district who carries out court orders and has duties similar to those of a sheriff
Segregation:  the act of separating people of different races, classes, or ethnic groups
Discrimination: the unjust treatment of people based on race, religion, gender
Nervous:  easily agitated or distressed
Empathy: identification with and understanding of another situation, feelings, motives, through the eyes or shoes of another
Alike: similar to each other
Different:  unlike someone
Change:  to make or become different
Diversity:  to have a range of ideas or offerings; to include others with different ideas or colors or religions
Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something based on their qualities or achievements
Racism: prejudice, discrimination, anger directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior
Persevere: to continue a course of action when facing difficulty

RESOURCES: (Southern Poverty Law Center)
THE RUBY BRIDGES STORY—a Disney film. Dreamscape, 1995
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester, Harper Collins, c 2006
Horace and Morris But Mostly Delores by James Howe, Aladdin Paperbacks, c 1999.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow Books, c 1991
The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr Seuss, Random House c 1961.
Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, Harcourt Brace and Co, c 1994
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, Scholastic Press, c 1995.
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges, Scholastic Press, 1999
The Skin you Live In by Michael Tyler, Chicago Children’s Museum, c 2005
One by Kathryn Otoshi, KO Kids Books, c 2008 (printed in China)
The Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka, Tien Wah Press. Singapore, c 1994>
Whoever you Are by Mem Fox, Harcourt Brace, c 1997.
It’s Okay to be Different byTodd Parr, Megan Tingley Brooks of Little Brown and Co, c 2001.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C Stead, Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, c 2010
The Colors of US by Karen Katz, Henry Holt, c  1999.
Ruby Bridges, a Rookie Bio, by Simone T Ribke, Scholastic Press, c2015
Ruby Bridges Goes to School, My True Story by Ruby Bridges, Scholastic Press, c 2003.
The Ruby Bridges Foundation.
3737 Lake Michel Court, Gretna, LA 70056