In 1767, Jeanne Baret, a French girl, disguised herself as a boy and signed up as botanist’s assistant aboard an exploration ship bound for the South Pacific with 200 crewmen. The Secret of Jeanne Baret is the true, untold story of the first woman ever to circumnavigate the Earth. This real-life adventuress with big dreams and amazing grit had been lost to history…until now.
This video provides an introduction to The Secret of Jeanne Baret. Teachers and parents can use the video to provide background and context in world history, geography, and botany, before students read the novel.
“This is a fascinating, well written book that kept me captivated from start to finish. I highly recommend The Secret of Jeanne Baret!” (Carol B. Major, Amazon)
“Written in a manner that captures the thoughts of the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, The Secret Life of Jeanne Baret provides the reader with a fascinating look at what it must have been like for a woman disguised as a man aboard a ship in the 1700s…. Well written and engaging this book would be an excellent vehicle for classroom lessons in geography and empowerment of women.” (Cathy, Goodreads)
“The story is well researched. Jeanne (disguised as Jean) travels to many exotic locations, meets people from a fascinating variety of cultures, and as she assists her master with his work, learns that she has a real flair for botany. I think this book could be a wonderful way to show girls how exciting science can be.” (Ruth Chatlien, Goodreads)
Study Guide for The Secret of Jeanne Baret
This guide offers a variety of questions and activities to support the teaching of The Secret of Jeanne Baret. The novel, combined with cross-curricular investigations, provides an engaging introduction to world history, geography, and botany. Teachers and parents may choose to use all of the materials or to select specific questions or activities that meet students’ individual needs and grade requirements.
Download and run off the maps to help students visualize the round-the-world route of the exploration ships. Click on link to download PDF.
How to Build a Ship
Students in book clubs at our local libraries enjoyed building their own sailing ships, after reading The Secret of Jeanne Baret.
Follow directions for the basic “pirate ship” on the website below.
In advance, prepare the hulls (milk cartons), masts (straws), and sails (heavy paper), and paint the hulls.
Add additional masts (straws), heavy paper for double sails. Use putty to hold the mast in place. Use paper clips to hold the rigging in place.
Students can help you put together and decorate their ships. Provide stickers, glitter, colored paper, and other decorations for students.
Feel free to contact me with questions.
Note: Practice one or two ships before trying the activity with students.