Columbus Day Theme activities, lessons, worksheets, books, and more...

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  • Math-It took Columbus 69 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  To help students understand the length of time, cut out 69 ships.  Number the ships from 1 to 69.  Tape a ship on a bulletin board or across the blackboard every day.  On the 69th day, have a celebration of some kind.  Some other math activities that you can do with the students are:   create Columbus word problems using the ships; have students determine how many days till the 69th day; write down the numbers that are odd or even; count by 2's, 5's, 10's; review place value.

  • Writing: Read "The Log of Christopher Columbus-The First Voyage" by Steve Lowe or any other journal/log book on Christopher Columbus.  Explain to students that they will make pretend they were on one of the ships and to keep a log of a day in their life on the ship.  Students can choose the ship and their job on that ship.  This assignment can consist of one day or one week.

  • Writing II: Students make a list of things they would take to on a long sea voyage.

  • Journal Time: Columbus was just one of many explorers who was on a quest of discovery.  Ask students what they would personally like to discover.

  • Health/Nutrition: Make a list of New World foods and Old World foods.  Print them on index cards.  Make two pockets out of construction paper.  Label one "New World Foods" and the second "Old World Foods".  Have students place each food in the correct pocket.  Other activities include sorting by food groups, colors, etc; play a concentration game using the flashcards.

New World Foods: corn, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, pecans, blueberries, papaya, pineapples, wild rice, chocolate, pumpkins, cashews, vanilla, peppers, beans, and avocados.
Old World Foods: onions, pigs, sheep, honeybees, lettuce, chickens, barley, watermelons, olives, grapes, peaches, sugarcane, cattle, okra, bananas, pears, and wheat.
  • Grammar (Adjectives): Using the Health/Nutrition activity, have students pretend they are Europeans or Native Americans and they have to tell their people about the new foods they have discovered.  Students must describe these new foods using describing words (adjectives).

  • Science: In this activity, students will understand how sails were used to propel ships through the ocean.  In a large plastic tub/container filled with water, place a toy boat or self-made boat with a sail.  Have students blow on the sail to propel the boat forward.  Have students race their boats using their breath.  You can also use fans to propel the boats forward.

  • Social Studies/Map Skills: Show students a map of the world and review the purpose of Columbus' voyage.  He wanted to go west to get to the Indies but ended up landing in the Americas.  Have students draw a map of what Europeans thought the world looked like in the 1400s.  They should label the continents and oceans as well as adding a compass rose.  Have students compare their map with current map of the world.

  • Vocabulary/Word Search: Click on the picture to download and print the Columbus Day word search.





  • Globe: Create a globe out of balloons and paper mache. Paint all blue.  Then, using cut-outs of continents, students trace and cut continents from green construction paper and glue to the globe.  Cut out 3 little ships and glue them in the Atlantic Ocean heading towards the Americas.  Using yarn, chalk, or crayon, draw the route Columbus took to get to the Americas.

  • Columbus' Ships: Have students create paper boats.  Here is a link that gives instructions on how to make paper boats:  or
    Add 3 craft sticks to the the boat and attach white tissue paper to make sails.  Create an ocean using blue tissue paper on a bulletin board and attach the ships to create a 3-D bulletin board display.



In 1492 (Tune: The Farmer in the Dell)

In 1492, in 1492
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
In 1492

For 70 days he sailed,
For 70 days he sailed,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
For 70 days he sailed.

He came to a new land,
He came to a new land,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
And came to a new land.

Exploring he did go,
Exploring he did go,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
Exploring he did go.

He sailed back home to Spain,
He sailed back home to Spain,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
Then sailed back home to Spain.

Nina, PInta, Santa Maria (Tune: Are You Sleeping?)

Nina, Pinta
Santa Maria
Sailed away,
One fine day.
Columbus loved the sea,
But was glad to see
Land Ho! Land Ho!



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