Christopher Columbus: Day 1

For the first day of our Christopher Columbus unit study we became more acquainted with his early life.  We learned that he was from Italy over 500 years ago and that he loved to sail.  We read a little from the book Columbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire each day of this unit.


 Map Skills:

Have the students find Italy on a world map or globe, then the city of Genoa. Ask them what sea Christopher Columbus would have sailed on as a boy? Ligurian Sea What bigger sea did this lead to? Mediterranean Sea


What we have learned about Columbus so far?

  • Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy
  • He lived over 500 years ago
  • He believed the world was round while others believed it was flat
  • He left his father’s house at age 13 to become a sailor

Comprehension questions:

  1. Where was Christopher Columbus born? Genoa, Italy
  2. What did others believe would happen if they went out to far in the ocean? They would fall off the earth
  3. What did Columbus believe about the world? It was round
  4. What did the boy Christopher hold and look at to help him understand that they earth was round? An orange and a butterfly
  5. How did he help his father with his business? Sailed up and down the Genoese coast and delivered the things that he father had woven
  6. How old was he when he left his family to be a sailor? 13
  7. Who attacked and sunk Columbus’s ship? A fleet of pirates


  • Have you ever ridden in a boat, was it fun?
  • What kinds of boats can people travel in today? Canoe, raft, kayak, rowboat, motorboat, sailboat, paddleboat, tugboat, submarine, cruise ship, etc…
  • Discuss what the purpose is of each kind of boat and how do they move across the water?
  • Which boat would you like to travel in and why?
  • Where would you go?
  • Who would you take with you?
  • Would you work on the boat or just enjoy the ride and let someone else to all the work?
  • How long would you want to be gone?

Orange Jello Boats

1.  Just cut an orange in half
2.  Scoop out everything inside making sure not to break the rind
3.  Pour in jello refrigerated it
4.  Once it is set, cut it in half again 
5.  Add the sail with a toothpick and small paper

Sailing Song

Have the children sing this song a few times doing the actions, pretending to be Christopher Columbus.

(To the tune of “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean”)

I wonder what’s over the ocean.

 ~Lean forward to the left as you shade eyes with hand and look far away.

I wonder what’s over the sea.

 ~Lean forward to the right as you shade eyes with hand and look far away.

Someday I’ll sail over the ocean

 ~Move hand in wavey motion.

That will be an adventure for me!

 ~Jump up and raise hands over head.

Sailing, sailing,

 ~Move hand in wavey motion.

In a ship over the sea, the sea.

 ~Point forward.

Sailing, sailing,

 ~Move hand in wavey motion.

That will be an adventure for me!

 ~Jump up and raise hands over head.

Landform Peninsula


Columbus is from Italy.  Do you remember where Italy is on the map? What is Italy shaped like? a boot  Italy is surrounded by water on 3 sides, that makes Italy a peninsula.


Peninsula: A peninsula is a body of land that is surrounded by water on three sides.  A peninsula is a type of landform.

Landform:  A description of the Earth’s shape and origin.  As we continue to learn about Columbus we will discuss other types of landforms.


  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Poster Board
  • Paint


  1. Make an outline of Italy on poster boards. Make sure to include the surrounding water.
  2. Mix 2 parts flour, 1 part salt, and 1 part water into a dough.
  3. Shape dough to form your map. 
  4. Place dough on aluminum pan and bake at 300° for 1 hour.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Paint your salt map now that it is cooled.
  7. While painting your map review the terms peninsula and landforms.

Christopher Columbus Unit Study

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7