A driving force for Columbus that many are not aware of was his strong faith in God and his desire to share that faith.
Before he ever set sail on that famous voyage, Christopher Columbus wrote a book about bringing the Gospel to unknown coastlands, explains Dr. Catherine Millard in her Home Educators Association of Virginia website article, Who Was Christopher Columbus? It was due, in part, to his missionary outreach, explains Millard, that Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain ultimately funded Columbus’ famous voyage.
In the Online Bibliographies Oxford Research Guide (Phillips, 2010), the author explains that Columbus compiled his writings in his Book of Prophesies, to encourage the Spanish monarchs to support his efforts to “[make] the Christian Gospel known to the entire world.”
Columbus Day is celebrated in the United States today as a holiday known for parades and special events. We can celebrate Columbus Day with our children at home or in the classroom in a variety of ways, including art projects, trips and activities.
Recreate (from the kids’ perspective) what it must have been like to live on one of Columbus’ ships during that long voyage from Europe to the New World. Scenes in your play can include Columbus trying to convince King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to give him the money and the ships to make the voyage, as well as the day they first saw land in the horizon and thought they had actually made their way to the East Indies.
Have your children write pages in a “ship’s log” as if they were sailing with Columbus. Encourage them to share their thoughts about how it is to live onboard the ship and what they hope to find when they reach their destination. Discuss how long the sailors were away from their families and how that must have made them feel.
Many cities hold elaborate parades on Columbus Day, but if you are unable to attend one, organize your own for the classroom or neighborhood! Make sure to have prizes for the best costume and floats (decorated bikes, boxes, etc.).
Help your child discover his inner artist by recreating one of the iconic images for Columbus Day, including the Globe or the three ships Columbus used for his first voyage to the new world.
Paper Mache Globe:
You’ll need a round balloon, lots of old newspaper, glue (make your own from flour and water), paint, paint brushes and a dark marker. Make plenty of glue by mixing flour and water in equal parts (start with a cup each).
Tear lots of strips of newspaper into strips about an inch wide.
Blow up the balloon and cover it with layers of the strips of newspaper that you first dip in glue. You’ll want several layers to make a sturdy globe, but you’ll need to let the glue dry overnight before adding each new layer.
Wipe off any excess glue after adding each layer, and let the paper-covered balloon dry completely for a few days after adding the last layer.
Once your “globe” has dried, use markers, paint and / or online print-outs to add the continents, oceans and as much detail as you’d like.
Egg Carton Ships
Help your kids make their very own replicas of the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria. You’ll need cardboard or Styrofoam egg cartons, paint, paintbrushes, modeling clay, toothpicks, glue or tape, white paper and scissors.
Cut apart the individual cups from the egg cartons and paint three of them to make the body of each ship. Cut paper sails and mount them into the cup with toothpicks and glue or tape. Create little “sailor-explorers” from the clay and have fun sailing your ships in the sink or bathtub!