Teach your students about Christopher Columbus and his historic journey with these articles, quizzes, printables, research ideas, and more.
- Use books to research and collect facts
- Create and label a map of Columbus’s voyage
- Create a book about Christopher Columbus using gathered research
- Books about Christopher Columbus, such as Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids by Ronald Reis, Christopher Columbus by Mary Dodson Wade, and Who Was Christopher Columbus? by Bonnie Bader
- Christopher Columbus Fact Hunt printable
- Christopher Columbus Fact Hunt Answer Key printable
- Blank paper, such as manila paper, to create a book, several sheets per student
- Blank map of the world showing continents and oceans, one per student
- Chart paper or whiteboard and markers
- Select and pre-read books about Christopher Columbus. The books you decide to use for the lesson should be able to answer all of the Christopher Columbus Fact Hunt questions.
- Make copies of the Christopher Columbus Fact Hunt printable for each student.
- Decide how students will create their books (whole sheets or sheets folded in half) and prepare materials. Keep in mind that each student’s book will require multiple blank pages.
- Make a copy of a blank world map for each student. These maps will be added to students’ books, so make sure they are the appropriate size.
Step 1: Display a world map for your students. Ask them how people knew what the world looked like before we had accurate maps or pictures from space. Did people always think the world looked the way we know it today? Tell your students that they will be learning about a man named Christopher Columbus, who helped us know what the world looks like.
Explain to the class that even though it’s a common myth, most educated Europeans in Columbus’s time did not think the world was flat. But most thought the world was smaller than it is, and only had one ocean. Many Europeans thought the world consisted of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They did not know about the Americas.
Step 2: Have the students draw a map imagining how Europeans in the 1400s pictured the world.
Step 3: Show them a map of the world, the way some people pictured it in Columbus’s time. A good visual is on page 21 in Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids by Ronald Reis. You can also do an internet search with your class, previewing beforehand to find appropriate results. Discuss and compare your students’ predictions with the map.
Step 4: Show your students a modern map of the world. Discuss and compare it to the older view of the world. Have your students point out what’s missing in the older map. Use a Venn diagram to record students’ answers.
Step 5: Identify where Columbus sailed from (Spain) and have the students predict where Columbus landed in the New World.
Step 1: Ask the class: “What is an explorer? What do they explore? Why do they explore?” Introduce Christopher Columbus as an explorer.
Step 2: Pass out the Christopher Columbus Fact Hunt printable to each student and read the questions together. Tell your students that they will be looking for the answers to the questions as they read.
Step 3: Students will read/listen to a biography and fill in the answers to the Christopher Columbus Fact Hunt questions.
Note: Scaffold reading as necessary. You may read as the students record their answers or work in small groups.
Step 4: Use the Christopher Columbus Fact Hunt to make first pages of a book. Each fact/sentence may be a page, or the students may decide how to present their findings.
Step 1: Review the maps of the world from the 1400s and today.
Step 2: Pass out a blank copy of a world map. Students will label the continents and the oceans on the map.
Step 3: Identify and label Italy.
Step 4: Identify and label Spain.
Step 5: Identify and label the Bahamas, Hispaniola, and Cuba.
Step 6: Plot Columbus’s first voyage to the New World.
Step 7: Add the map to student books using staples or glue.
Extension: Students create a compass rose and a map key.
Step 1: Use the gathered information and the maps to create and assemble a “book” about Christopher Columbus. Students may add to their findings and add illustrations.
Step 2: Students present their books to a partner.
Supporting All Learners
The pacing of this lesson may be altered to fit your class’s needs. It can be consolidated into one lesson or spread out over the week depending on time and/or grade level. You may add more questions to the Fact Hunt, as well, to make it more challenging.
- Did students complete the Christopher Columbus Fact Hunt correctly?
- Did students label their map and plot Columbus’s voyage correctly?
- Did students complete the book?
Lesson plan written by Sarah Denton. Sarah Denton taught PreK and first grade. She was ESL-certified and the PreK-2 member of her school's Instructional Leadership Team.