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Educational Columbus Day Activities
Learn about Christopher Columbus on Columbus Day
Columbus Day is observed on the second Monday in October. It commemorates an Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, who sailed west from Spain in 1492 and discovered the New World. He was trying to find a shorter passage to India, China, and other Asian countries (the East Indies), where precious spices, rare cloth, and other goods could be found, and trying to prove that the earth was round and not flat.
Use these activities to teach your home schooled children about Columbus Day, and use them as a base to expand your children's education.
1. See the Statue
If there is one in your local area, going to see a statue of Christopher Columbus can be an interesting outing, and shows how Christopher Columbus continues to be significant in the United States. You can discuss the impact of his voyage.
Older students can write an essay about how history would be different if he hadn't made his journey.
2. Learn about Christopher Columbus
Older students may learn about the biography of Christopher Columbus, or about his other voyages. They can debate the controversy over whether he was the first to discover the New World, and learn about other explorers.
3. Cook with Spices
Since Christopher Columbus was trying to find a cheaper way to get spices, cooking with a variety of spices is another great Columbus Day exercise. They can learn about the importance and use of spices, and learn some mathematical concepts such as fractions, multiplication or division when doubling or halving a recipe.
4. Read the Story
Children can learn about Christopher Columbus and his voyages by reading books. Some of these books are told in story form, which help ignite the imaginations of younger readers, while others are more scholarly and provide more historical information to older students.
5. Recreate the story
Students can recreate the story in a number of ways.
- Draw a picture or a series of pictures and tell you the story with pictures.
- Dress up in costume to recreate the story.
- Write an essay or story.
- Recreate it with a drama or a play.
6. Visit the Replica of the Santa Maria
Christopher Columbus traveled on three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, and landed on the island of Hispaniola (now home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in the Caribbean.
If you live in Columbus, Ohio or nearby, you may want to take your student to the Santa Maria. Your child will enjoy being able to go aboard the replica ship and see and feel firsthand the size and structure of the sailing vessel. He will then be better able to imagine what it would be like to make the journey across the ocean.
The guides on the boat will be able to provide additional information and answer questions.
7. Build a Boat
Students can build a boat using a variety of materials.
- Matchsticks can make a three dimensional boat
- A simple origami boat out of paper
- A cut out boat using cardboard or construction paper and decorated with crayons or other material
All of these ships can be used to recreate or tell his story.
Columbus Day Facts
The first Columbus Day was celebrated in 1792 in New York City. The next celebration was held in 1866 b New York's Italian American population. Three years later, San Francisco, California followed, and used the name Columbus Day.
As time went on, it became an annual October event, and President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed it an official holiday in 1937. It became a federal holiday, and the date was changed to the second Monday in October, making it a three-day weekend.
8. Learn to Navigate like Christopher Columbus
If there is a lake or ocean in the area, students can tour any boat or ship, and learn about what it is like to travel by water. A boat ride would help them get a feel for the experience. They can also learn the vocabulary of seafarers.
Tracing Christopher Columbus' journey on a map will help students understand the distance that he traveled, as well as learn some geography.
Homeschooled students can show how the earth is round by making a model of the earth using paper maché.
They can also learn how to read a map or use a compass.
Columbus Day Homeschooling Ideas
There are a variety of activities that Columbus Day can be used as a basis for teaching different subjects, including history, geography, philosophy, mathematics, and writing. By using the activities listed in this article, and coming up with some of your own, you will be able to make schoolwork interesting and expand your student's knowledge.