Juan Ponce de León (1471 - 1521) was a Spanish explorer that led the first European expedition to Florida in 1513. Popular legend is that Ponce de León was looking for a magical water source called the Fountain of Youth that could restore youth to anyone who drank it. Did he find it? Most historians say Ponce de León was more interested in finding new territory he could govern.
In 1521, Ponce de León landed on the west coast of Florida with intentions to establish a colony. Instead, he was attacked by Indians and wounded by an arrow in his stomach. He returned to Cuba with a few survivors, where he died a month later. He is buried in Puerto Rico, and you can "visit" his memorial at San Juan's Cathedral on Find a Grave. Visit for the Ponce de León biography, and a chance to snoop around all the other famous graves and memorials listed here.
"Ponce de León was trained as a warrior and public servant. De León sailed on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus and with his family, settled on Hispaniola." Part of a collection of nineteen biographies, this single-page Ponce de León bio is appropriate for both elementary and middle-school students. The other bios (including explorers Christopher Columbus and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado) can be found by following the link at the bottom of the page.
This one page Ponce de León biography is my pick-of-the-day because if you print it out, the black-and-white illustrations are perfect for coloring. So get out your crayons, and learn about the discovery of Florida, the Calusa Indians, and the mythical Fountain of Youth. For teacher notes, a student worksheet, and a PDF version of the reading passage (with even larger coloring pictures), click on "A Short History of Florida" at either the top or bottom of the page.
"Juan Ponce de León was born in Tierra de Campos Palencia, Spain. As a boy he was hired to deliver messages in royal court." Who Goes There, created by students at Bartlett Elementary School for the 2000 ThinkQuest competition, is all about European exploration of the new world. My favorite part of the site is the original illustrations, including one of Ponce de León.
"According to a popular fable, Ponce de León came to Florida to find a spring called the Fountain of Youth... But historians believe that even though Ponce de León may have heard stories about a Fountain of Youth, he was actually interested in finding wealth and new lands that he could govern." This World Book entry includes a map of Ponce de León's 1513 expedition to Florida, and links to dozens of additional articles covering the "great age of European exploration."