This month we explore Portugal. Portugal is a Southwestern European country on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the westernmost country on mainland Europe. The land of Portugal includes the mainland and two archipelagos: Madeira and the Azores. The land and borders of the Portuguese Republic have been fought over and settled continuously since prehistoric times. In 1139 Portugal became independent kingdom from the Galicia.  In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal played a major role in explorations and expanding the western influence.


For older children, a wonderful history lesson is looking at the explorers of Portugal. Prince Henry the Navigator is considered an important part of the Portuguese explorations. He encouraged his father, King John I of Portugal, to conquer varies ports as well as support the explorations. In 1412 Prince Henry ordered the expeditions to the African coast and Canary Islands. In 1419-1420 the Madeira Island group was discovered and colonized. In 1488 the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope and began to explore the Indian Ocean. In 1494 Spain and Portugal split the world in two. The dividing line was the north-south line 370 leagues west of the Azores. Portugal claimed all non-Christian lands east of the line. In 1495 they discovered Greenland and in 1500 Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil on his way to India. In 1498 Vasco da Gama sailed around Africa to India.

Portuguese discoveries and explorationsV2en

Portuguese Discoveries and Explorations Source: By Descobrimentos_e_explorações_portuguesesV2.png: *Descobrimentos_e_explorações_portugueses.png: *Portuguese_discoveries_and_explorations.png: *Portuguese_Empire_map.jpg: Tokle derivative work: Uxbona (Descobrimentos_e_explorações_portuguesesV2.png) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

There are many books available at your local library on the various explorers and the explorations of Portugal. Above are some books found at my local library. This was an exciting time in history and especially in Portugal.  The Portuguese Empire has the longest record for European colonial empires. It started in 1415 with the capture of Ceuta and ended in 1999 when they turned over Macau to China. As a result there are over 250 million Portuguese speakers in the world today–making it the sixth most spoken first language in the world.

explorers Collage

For younger children, it may be fun to look at the Portuguese language. The books below are a few found at my local library that introduce Portuguese in an age appropriate way.

Portuguese books Collage

 My five-year-old also enjoys listening to music from each country when possible. If the songs have words they are in Portuguese as well, but we found quite a collection of songs at our local library. Below are the CD covers that we found at least one song from Portugal. The Portuguese music covers a wide array. The most renowned Portuguese music is fado.

Portugal Music Collage

 Portugal has an education system that includes preschool (under age 6), basic education (9 years of it), secondary education (through 12th grade) and higher education (college or technical school). It also has one of the oldest continuous operated universities in the world. It was established in 1290 in Lisbon and moved to Coimbra and is now the University of Coimbra.

2002-10-26 11-15 (Andalusien & Lissabon 246) Lissabon, Praça do Comércio

Praça do Comércio e arco da Rua Augusta Source: By Allie_Caulfield [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The cuisine of Portugal is diverse. One popular food is dry cod. Sardines are also popular. For meats they eat lamb, pork, beef or chicken. The various regions of Portugal have their own type of food. One resource of the regional food is The Food of Spain & Portugal: A Regional Celebration by Elisabeth Laurd. It has recipes for the different regions in Portugal.

food of spain and portugal

To teach your child more about Portugal, there are many books available for all age levels. Here are some I found at our library. Most will work for older children to get the full understanding and to have the attention span for the length of reading.

Learning about Portugal CollageFor the younger child, I recommend Portugal by Kari Schuetz. My daughter and I learned quite a bit from reading this book and she really understood it.

portugal schuetz

Finally with our explorations I like to include some stories from the country. I had trouble finding picture book stories to share from Portugal, but did find some fairy tales, Portuguese Fairy Tales retold by Maurice and Pamela Michael, and folk tales, The Little Horse of Seven Colors and Other Portuguese Folk Tales retold by Patricia Tracy Lowe. The fairy tale book did not have any pictures, however the folk tale book has some. We have been reading the folk tale book and loving the stories.  The other book, A New Life In An Old Village: A Family in Portugal by Hélène Tremblay, is a true story about a family’s life in Covelo, Portugal.  It is out of print, but you may be able to find it at the library like I did.

stories from portugal Collage

Sources for this post:



Coimbra Source: By Alvesgaspar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We also have the wonderful Portugal placemat and passport (and of course our passport cover) available to download for free to help teach your children about Portugal. Also please visit the various blogs who link their posts with crafts, recipes and more about Portugal and feel free to link any you have.

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