A Sea Route to the Far East

Columbus Day

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Columbus Day

With the discovery of an ancient diary, two children learn what drove Columbus to explore the unknown, who helped him in his journey, and what he found once he arrived in the New World. Guided by Columbus himself, the children see how the explorer went from working in his father's weaving shop to accidentally discovering the Americas. Through this tour of Columbus' life students will learn the importance of his journeys and why we honor him in October.

Learn about Columbus Day and how it became an American holiday.

  1. Students will know about the life of Christopher Columbus.
    1. Christopher Columbus was born in Italy in 1451.
    2. He did not want to be a weaver like his father but was interested in sailing instead. For years, he studied maps and charts, talked to sea captains, and went out on boats with fishermen. At the age of 14, while sailing to get wool for his father, he learned about sails, masts, ropes, compasses, and everything else needed in sailing.
    3. Christopher Columbus believed he could get east by sailing west because he believed the world was round. Most people did not believe him.
    4. On one voyage, pirates attacked his ship. He fought the pirates all day until his ship caught on fire. He was forced to jump into the sea, which caused him to hurt his leg. Eventually, fishermen dragged him out of the water and brought him to Lisbon, Portugal. While there, he learned Portuguese (the language of sailors at that time) and Latin (the language used in many books).
    5. Soon after this, he and his brother Bartholomew started their own shop where they made and sold maps.
    6. At the age of 28, he married. He and his wife had a son named Diego.
    7. He went to the king of Portugal to ask for money, promising to make the king rich. King John told him to leave his maps so his men could study them to determine if the plan was good or not. Christopher Columbus waited many months with no word from the king. King John had tricked him. The king sent his own captain out to sea using Columbus's maps and charts. Columbus felt betrayed; however, King John's captain failed in his voyage because he was too afraid to sail into the unknown.
    8. Columbus's wife died. He and his son left Portugal to travel to Spain.
    9. While in Spain, he left his son with monks and went to see the king and queen. He asked Ferdinand and Isabella to fund a voyage. They promised to think about it. After waiting six years, he still had not heard from them.
    10. He decided to try going to France to get money. When he went to get his son from the monks, Father Perez begged him not to go. He said he would help Columbus get the money by writing to the king and queen of Spain asking if they would see Columbus again. Queen Isabella wrote back and said that she would see him. She agreed to give him the money he needed for his voyage.
    11. Three wooden ships were made for the journey: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. In order to sail the three ships, he needed 90 sailors. It was difficult finding enough sailors because many men were afraid that if they went too far into the sea, they would fall off the earth. The king's soldiers forced some men to sign up for the voyage, and some were released from jail to go on the ships. Along with them, Columbus took doctors, carpenters, and experienced seamen.
    12. Once the crew was in place, he loaded the ships with supplies. There was a year's worth of cheese, biscuits, salted meat and fish, and casks of water and wine. He also took a chest loaded with things to trade with the natives-things such as beads, mirrors, brass bells, and red caps.
    13. They set sail on August 3, 1492.
    14. They stopped at the Canary Islands to repair the Pinta and then set out west.
    15. After sailing for a while, many men wanted to turn back. Some even wanted to kill Columbus or throw him overboard because he was continuing the voyage.
    16. Finally, on October 12, they spotted land. They planted Spain's flag on the ground and called the new land San Salvador. They called the natives of the new land Indians because they thought they were near India.
    17. They also sailed to other islands such as Haiti, which they called Hispaniola, and Cuba.
    18. After exploring the area a little bit more, they began their return to Spain. On the way back, the Santa Maria drifted into a coral reef and was wrecked. They returned to Spain on the other two ships and were welcomed as heroes. s) Columbus returned to the Americas three more times but never found the Far East. He was disappointed, but he knew that one day great men of the sea would find the route, and they did.
  2. Students will know about Columbus Day as a holiday.
    1. President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Columbus Day a legal holiday in 1934.
    2. Columbus Day is observed in most states and Puerto Rico, some parts of Canada, some Central and South American countries, and Italy and Spain.
    3. In the United States, Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October.
  3. Students will realize that one thing that can be learned from Columbus's life is to never give up on your dreams.

  1. Use a sequence of maps and globes (if available) to discuss the significance of Columbus's views and discoveries. First, show a map of a flat earth. Explain that this is what people once thought the earth was like.

    Show why it was so difficult to travel across land from Europe all the way over to the East. Next, show a map or globe of a round earth-but without the Americas. Explain that this is what Columbus believed the world was like. He believed that by sailing west, he could cross the ocean and reach the East; however, the earth is much bigger than what he thought.

    Finally, show a map or globe of the earth now. Show the path Columbus took and point out the Americas.