March 24, 2012

Christopher Columbus Day 2

1. Review: read “A Boy Named Christopher” on page 6 and “A Sea Battle” on page 8 of Hands on History Christopher Columbus by Mary Tucker.
2. Read: pages 13-21 in Columbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire.
3. Map Skills: We have read about several places so far. Can you name some of them? Find Spain, Asia, and Portugal on the map. What ocean was Christopher in when he got to Portugal? Atlantic Ocean Back then it was called the great Western Ocean.
4. Comprehension questions:
  • What country did Columbus first sail for? Portugal
  • Did the Portuguese believe the earth was flat or round? Round
  • Had anyone ever sailed far into the Atlantic Ocean yet? No
  • What country did Columbus think he would come to if he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean? Asia (Point on the globe with your finger and make line from Portugal going west to Asia saying that Columbus thought all the land would be the Atlantic Ocean)
  • The King of Portugal wouldn't support Columbus' journey, so what country did Columbus go and ask the King and Queen for help? Spain
  • Who did Christopher and his son have to stay with for a while? The monks at the little cloister (monastary)
5. Discuss: read “Explorers Exploring” on page 7 of Hands on History Christopher Columbus by Mary Tucker. Have students find China on map. Then have him find Africa. Ask students if they think going around Africa would have been the best way to get to the East from Portugal? Were there any other possible ways to get there?

Read “It's a Small, Small World” on page 10 of Hands on History Christopher Columbus by Mary Tucker. Show on the globe how they thought the world was (but covering the Americas with your hand) and saying that they thought it was all ocean.

Columbus' Letter to the King and Queen of Spain
Discuss:  What country did Columbus first sail for? (Portugal) Columbus believed he could sail across the Atlantic Ocean to Asia, but he needed ships and men to do it. He requested the help of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Let's pretend you are Columbus writing a letter to the king and queen requesting their help. Include what supplies you would need (food, water, ships, etc.) and three reasons why they should help you.
Columbus' Letter
Egg Cup Ships


  • 3 cardboard egg cups

  • Brown acrylic craft paint
  • Paintbrush
  • ¼ cup modeling clay or play dough
  • 6 toothpicks
  • 1 sheet white paper
  • Scissors
  • White craft glue


  1. Paint the 3 egg cups inside and out with brown paint and set aside to dry.
  2. Cut sails from white paper. You will need 6 large sails (1.5” x 1”) and 18 small sails (.5” x .75”).
  3. Set aside three of the toothpicks for the large sails. Break or cut the other three toothpicks in half, so that you have 6 halves.
  4. Put a line of glue through the middle of one of the small sails. Place the cut or broken end of one of the toothpick halves onto the glue line.
  5. Roll it in the glue to cover both sides, then place another sail on top, sandwiching the two sails together. Flatten the sails together with your fingers and set aside to dry.
  6. Repeat step number 5 with each toothpick half and 2 small sails (each).
  7. Following the guide in step number 5, make the larger sails. For each large sail you will need a toothpick, 2 small sails and 2 large sails. Glue the small sail to the end of the full toothpick, and then glue the larger sail beneath it, leaving a small gap between the top and bottom sail. Then set those aside to dry too. 
  8. Roll a small amount of clay in your palm, enough to line the bottom of the egg cup. Place in the egg cup and flatten to cover bottom.
  9. Put one large sail and 2 small sails into the clay, one small sail on either side of the large sail.
Egg Cup Ships
Making a Map
Discuss: The people of Columbus' time thought that they could sail west around the world to get to the Indies.  They didn't know about the 2 big continents that were in there way.  Draw a map to show what was really across the ocean between Europe and China?

Materials:  I used “Making a Map” on page 11 of Hands on History Christopher Columbus by Mary Tucker.

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