Forget the same old Columbus Day activities that you have done year in and year out, and try something new this October. While the history of the event has not changed, we have some fun ideas for you that will definitely make learning and remembering the facts more interesting. Your students will be excited about these interactive ideas while you will be happy not to teach the same lesson over again.
A Twist on Columbus Day Lessons
Columbus Day Jeopardy
There are very few upper elementary and middle school students who do not enjoy playing a game of Jeopardy in class. Based on the game show by the same name, this activity reinforces prior learning from books that you have been reading about Columbus. Create five to 10 different categories, depending on whether or not you would like to have a round of double Jeopardy. The categories can range from “Columbus’ Ships” to “Ship Life” to “Spain in 1492”. Create four or five questions and answers for each category. Write each answer on one side of a piece of construction paper with a money value on the other side ranging from $100 to $500. Laminate the pages or slip them into protective sheet pockets. Divide the class up into teams or allow students to compete individually. When students pick an answer, you read it and they must respond in the form of a question. Students enjoy the competition of the game and become actively involved in the lesson.
If you live in an area of the country where going outdoors to the playground on a fall day is a possibility, this fun idea will encourage students’ creativity and artistic ability. Create a short timeline of the events surrounding Columbus’ voyage. Divide the class into the same number of groups as there are events on your timeline. If you have a large class and want to have smaller group sizes, create a more detailed history by breaking events into smaller details. After you have assigned each group an event in the history of Columbus’ voyage, encourage them to sketch it out on paper in a way that they can easily copy the same picture in chalk outdoors. While some of the students are sketching, the others can be working on a short narration to describe the event to passersby. Invite other classes in the school to come through your class’ chalk walk and hear the history surrounding Columbus. On the day of the event, have your students draw their pictures on the school’s outdoor basketball court using sidewalk chalk. At designated times, other classes can walk around the court to hear stories or events that correlate to each chalk drawing. Your students will enjoy being creative and getting outdoors for this fun activity.
What better way to learn about Columbus than through stories. For this activity, each student will come up with a story that they can tell aloud based on a fact of Columbus’ life and voyage. Invite younger grades to come and visit your classroom to listen to all of the storytellers and find out interesting tidbits about Columbus. On the day of the activity, students come dressed in period costumes and take up positions around the room. As the younger classes file in, students gather in small groups around each storyteller to listen. After the story is over, the guests can receive a stamp in a small passport like book or a sticker on a chart. This will help the younger students keep track of which stories they have already heard and which ones they still need to listen to. Encourage your students to really get into their roles as storytellers and make the event exciting for all.
Do you have a clever way to teach students about Columbus Day? Share it with us below or on the Really Good Teachers Forums! We’d love to hear from you!