Marco Polo & Zheng He: Two Great Explorers

Grades: 5-9 | Duration: 90 minutes

Experience the highlights of two very unique explorers from the ancient world. Students will experience the incredible journey of Marco Polo and his life with the Mongol Empire. To contrast with this odyssey, students will then retrace the pivotal expeditions of Zheng He that helped bring the Ming Dynasty into greatness.

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards

Speaking & Listening

  • 7.1c – Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that bring the discussion back on topic as needed.
  • 8.1c – Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.


Reading: Informational Text

  • 6.7 – Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.



  • 5.3e – Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.
California State Board of Education

History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools

  • 7.3 – Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the civilizations of China in the Middle Ages.
  • 7.3.3 – Analyze the influences of Confucianism and changes in the Confucian thought during the Sung and Mongol periods.
  • 7.3.4 – Understand the importance of both overland trade and maritime expeditions between China and other civilizations in the Mongol Ascendancy and Ming Dynasty.