Christopher Columbus Unit Study

In this unit study you will learn about Christopher Columbus and his journey to America. You will also learn a little geography. You will learn about the different landforms including peninsulas, islands, and mountains. This unit study is geared for elementary students and planned as a 1-2 week unit. There are 6 days worth of lessons this can be done in one week or stretched out over 2 weeks.

The book used for this unit study is Columbus by Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire

Required books for Christopher Columbus Unit Study

Edgar Parin D'Aula...
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Day 1

1. Read pages 4-13 in Columbus.

2. Discuss 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 and not flat.
  • He left his father's house at 13 to become a sailor

3. We have learned that Columbus is from Italy. Can you find Italy on a map? What does Italy look like? In the story of Columbus, Italy is described as a boot. Do you notice that Italy is surrounded by water on 3 sides? Italy is a peninsula.

4. Vocabulary:

Define Peninsula

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

Peninsula is one type of landform.

Define Landform.

Landform: A description of the Earth's shape and origin

As we continue to read the story of Columbus we will discuss other types of landforms.

5. Make your own peninsula

Salt Map of Italy
Supplies: flour, salt, water, and paint


  • Make an outline of Italy on poster boards (or paper). Make sure to include the surrounding water.
  • Mix 2 parts flour, 1 part salt, and 1 part water into a dough.
  • Shape dough to form your map.
  • Place dough on aluminum pan and bake at 300° for 1 hour.
  • Allow to cool.

6. The story of Columbus is a biography of Columbus's life. A biography is an account of a person's life written by another person. Pick a member of your family and write a biography of his or her life. Make sure to include when and where they were born and other details of their life. Make a title for your story and include a cover page with drawing of the person your biography is about.

Day 2

1. Read pages 13-21 in Columbus.

2. Discuss the following:
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 so. He requested the help of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Pretend you are Columbus and write a letter to the king and queen requesting their help. Include what supplies you are requesting (food, water, ships, etc.) and three reasons why they should help you.

3. In your reading, you have read about several places thus far. Can you name some of them? Find Portugal, Spain, Asia, and the Atlantic Ocean map.

3. Get out your salt map from yesterday. Paint your salt map now that it is cooled. While painting your map review the terms peninsula and landforms. Discuss all the different landforms you can think of.

Day 3

1. Read pages 22-30 in Columbus.

2. Columbus left the port of Palos, Spain on August 3, 1492. He took three ships. Can you remember the names of the ships? (Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria) Which ship was the smallest? Which ship was the largest? Which ship was the fastest?

3.Columbus kept a logbook of his travels. He recorded the date and how many miles he traveled. The crew on his ship was hungry, scared, and ready to go home. Pretend you are a member of Columbus's crew. Write a journal describing what you have seen and how you are feeling.

4. Make a replica of the Nina, Pinta, or Santa Maria. (If you have more than one child, have each make a different ship.)

Supplies: 2 liter plastic bottle, glue or tape, construction paper, piece of styrofoam, and wooden skewers


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