Columbus Day

Today we learned all about Christopher Columbus by going on a Columbus Voyage. 
 {I take NO credit for this idea.  Previous first grade teachers at my school were doing this before I started teaching first grade 9 years ago.} 
We started off by reading a couple nonfiction books about Christopher Columbus.  We talked about how he was an explorer and he went on a voyage to discover the New World.  (Working on vocabulary) 
Then we begin to prepare for our own voyage.  Every student is given this packet.
Like I said above, I did not come up with this idea, but I did revamp the packet that we have been using for over 10 years.  It needed some desperate updating. (Click on the picture above to download for free.)
We explain to the students that Columbus and his crew had to pack enough food for the journey.  Each student receives a bag of snacks for their voyage. (saltine crackers, goldfish, and beef jerky)

They may eat from these bags anytime during the voyage, but they can't eat it all at once because on the ships, they couldn't eat all their food at once.  They have to spread it out over the entire voyage.
Each student is also given a trinket bag. {bells, beads, mirrors(foil wrapped over construction paper squares), and gold (spray painted rocks)} These are the items that they will use to trade with other classrooms.
 Arrange with 7 other classrooms in your building in advance and they will be the Native Americans. Give each classroom a different item to trade (feathers, popcorn, cotton balls, cinnamon, dried pineapple, shells, and Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights.) 
To start the voyage, students will get one item from their trinket bag.  You will walk as a class to one of the "Native American" classrooms.  They will trade their item for another item.  Then return to the room to complete the page in the booklet about that item.  Continue throughout the book.  Students will collect 7 new items.  (Clear as mud, right?)
Here are some students filling out their paper after trying their cinnamon candy.

Students are enjoying their popcorn that they traded for with the Native Americans.

Here are the 1st graders trading with some 4th grade "Native Americans."

It was a fun morning and the students LOVED it.
After returning to the room when our voyage was over, we completed this Columbus Day booklet.
I know Columbus Day is over, but you can save these ideas for next year or do them anytime this week.


  1. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Now this is what I call quality learning at it finest!!! I am rollin' with that sweet little book of yours on Wednesday . . . . in addition to fire safety, it's explorer week for us. Gonna "borrow" these ideas too. Thanks friend.

    Kelley Dolling
    Teacher Idea Factory

  3. Looks fun. I think I will try it next year. Thank you!
    1 thing you might want to change though is on page 5 write 'your' instead of 'you'

  4. love the columbus day your newest follower...drop by =)

  5. Oh my goodness, what an amazing lesson! Your students will definitely remember this. I love that this lesson was passed down to different teachers through the years, and I'm so glad that you shared it with your readers!

    Alicia @ Today's Objective

  6. I love this! I did find a typo though and was hoping you could fix it~ on page 5, it says "Glue you piece of cotton below," and it should be "your." Thank you! ~Hannah

  7. LOVE that idea!!!!!!!!!!!!! Super cute. Pinning for next year.

    Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade
    Mrs. Wheeler TpT


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