Christopher Columbus Day Unit StudyTicia Messing
This year while studying The Mystery of History, Volume III, we covered Christopher Columbus. Since we were quite enthralled with him, we took a break from our Illuminations schedule and indulged in a Christopher Columbus unit study. Because Columbus Day is coming up, I share our experience in case you want to have a special Columbus unit study.
Side note: isn’t it nice as homeschoolers to have the freedom to stop the lessons and spend more time with things we’re interested in? Never be afraid to skip the plan when your children are inquisitive about a topic. That’s one of the best parts of homeschooling!
We started our unit by making our own sailor’s tools. We made a quadrant and built a chip log (to measure speed). We even prepared dried food similar to what sailors would have eaten though we left out the ale.
The kids were fascinated to discover all they could learn from fairly simple materials. Ours were not the most accurate you can find, but they certainly were happily used for lots of pretend play.
Learning about navigation and sea travel
Next we learned about sea travel. In Columbus’s time navigators were just starting to learn about sea currents. Imagine not knowing why your ship is suddenly going a different direction than you planned or not knowing what lies over the next wave. That took a lot of bravery.
We learned how salinity affects water currents and how tropical water acts differently than arctic waters. Then finally we studied about currents caused by winds.
It was fascinating to discover all of the ways what we can’t see affects how the water moves. And I was able to inject a lot of science into this unit study that way.
That led to a presentation to Ferdinand and Isabella
After all, Christopher Columbus had to convince the king and queen to fund his expedition, and it made a great time for the kids to practice their presentation skills. All three of my kids made maps, model ships (out of LEGOs of course), and worked super hard for a week to persuade the Spanish monarchy. They all did a stunning job, and I was quite impressed with their overall work.
Finally we learned what happened because of Christopher Columbus’s discovering America
Do you enjoy spaghetti with marinara sauce or potatoes? Both of those are New World foods. I certainly don’t associate them with the New World. I associate tomatoes with Italy and Italian cooking. I associate potatoes with Ireland.
But neither of these items originally came from those countries.
The Mariner’s Museum has an extensive list for The Great Exchange. (Don’t confuse it with The Great Exchange Martin Luther talks about concerning Jesus Christ. That’s a lesson for several weeks later in The Mystery of History, Volume III).
Imagine the horror of a world without salsa. Tomatos, chili peppers, and maize are all from the New World. My life would be a much sadder place without the Great Exchange.
Oh, that’s right we did one other thing — maps of exploration
We made giant maps of everywhere Columbus went from our much smaller WonderMaps. He had quite an impressive listing of discoveries for that short period of time.