Columbus Petitioning Ferdinand & Isabella to Support the Voyage
from the Columbus Doors in the U.S. Capitol

Columbus Day

How to handle Columbus Day and the more general study of the conquest of the Americas by Europeans is one of the controversial topics that challenges the classroom teacher. There are no easy answers. A good approach is to acknowledge up front the differences in perspective on exploration and colonization and to help students look at the issue from more than one point of view. It also helps to put the issue in its global context of people and events in Europe and the Americas before Columbus. There is some excellent new scholarship on America before Columbus but not much yet for young readers. Here is a set of reviewed web resources, internet lessons, and literature for children and teachers.


Columbus and the Age of Discovery
This is a mega site with hundreds of documents that was developed by faculty at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. It was awarded the status of an "Official Project" by the U.S. Christopher Columbus 1992 Quincentenary Jubilee Commission.

History of Columbus Day
This Library of Congress “Today in History” site has a brief history of Columbus Day in America.

The New world

This brief university site explains that the European exploration of the American continent had nothing to do with intellectual curiosity or even unfathomable human courage. It was almost entirely about one and only one thing: money. And it was a mistake.

Columbus Navigation Homepage: Examining the History, Navigation, and Landfall of Christopher Columbus
This page by Keith Pickering, a Columbus scholar from Watertown, Minnesota, has information on Columbus's navigation,
his ships, each of the four voyages, and other special topics. It links to his Columbus Landfall Homepage with maps and
history of the landfall location dispute.

Columbus Doors at the U.S. Capitol
Here are images of the door and panels that can be projected in the classroom. They are an example of the traditional view of Columbus and his discoveries.

Christopher Columbus

Image from 1492 Exhibit - Smithsonian

1492 - An Ongoing Voyage
This is the webpage for the Smithsonian Exhibit on Columbus' voyage to America. The exhibition examines the first sustained contacts between American people and European explorers, conquerors, and settlers from 1492 to 1600. During this period,
in the wake of Columbus's voyages, Africans also arrived in the hemisphere, usually as slaves. All of these encounters, some
brutal and traumatic, others more gradual, irreversibly changed the way in which peoples in the Americas led their lives.

Christopher Columbus: Letter to the King and Queen of Spain
This is an undated letter to Ferdinand and Isabella from Columbus describing his plan for colonization of Espanola.

Privileges and Prerogatives Granted by Their Catholic Majesties to Christopher Columbus: 1492
This is the Spanish crown's contract with Columbus before his first voyage.

Christopher Columbus and His Legacy
This British Broadcast Corporation site features a six-page description of Christopher Columbus and the significance of his voyages on history written by Thomas C. Tirado.

Age of Exploration - Christopher Columbus
This Mariner’s Web offering provides a picture of Columbus's life and voyages written at a middle and high school level. It presents information in a straightforward, factual manner, and includes interesting facts about life aboard ship, as well as reports of Columbus's mistreatment of the Indians and his official censure because of it. The site includes a glossary, pictures, maps, and links to related sites.


Getting to Know Christopher Columbus: Cyberspace Explorer
This lesson supports third through fifth-grade students' exploration of multiple online sources to gather information about the life of a well-known explorer, Christopher Columbus. After completing a cyber scavenger hunt, students use their notes to prepare a timeline and summary report. Extension activities promote critical literacy by exposing students to Columbus from the perspective of the Native American and by engaging them in a discussion of point of view.

Discovery Channels: Investigating the Legacies of Exploration and Colonization
In this New York Times lesson, students explore the issues surrounding the celebration of Columbus Day and investigate the impact and legacy of exploration and colonization through group research. Students synthesize the information they have gathered and create a first person narrative about exploration and colonization.

What was life like for Indians before the arrival of Columbus?
Using a "Life Grid" chart, students research and record information about the geographic, economic, political and social life of Native Americans from the major culture groups within the U.S. Since Pre-Columbian tribes left no written documents, historians have learned about Indian cultures through the artifacts and the stories of the people. Students will be the historians and each will complete a visual and/or oral presentation that will explain the culture using the methodology of a historian.

Columbus Day (Native American Perspective)
Designed for 4th and 5th grade students, this lesson uses a readers’ theatre and children’s literature to look at Christopher Columbus from different perspectives.

Ahoy Columbus! A Cyberhunt by Scholastic
How much do you really know about the voyages of Christopher Columbus? Sail off on your expedition across the Web right here! Print this page to write your answers, or use a separate sheet of paper.

Children’s Literature

Adler, Judy. Christopher Columbus: Explorer. Child's World, 2002.

Columbus, Christopher. First Voyage to America: From the Log of the “Santa Maria.” Dover, 1991.

Conrad, Pam. Pedro's Journal. Scholastic, 1992. (also in Spanish)

Doak, Robin Santos. Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World. Coughlan Publishing, 2005.

Dorris, Michael. Morning Girl. Hyperion Books for Children, 1999.

Maestro, Betty. Exploration and Conquest: The Americas After Columbus: 1500-1620. HarperCollins, 1997.

Nathan, Melissa. Christopher Columbus. Gareth Stevens, 2004.

Roop, Peter. Christopher Columbus (In Their Own Words). Scholastic, 2001.

Roop, Peter. I, Columbus. HarperCollins, 1991.

Saunders, Nicholas. Life of Christopher Columbus, The (Stories from History). School Specialty Children's Publishing, 2006.

Yolen, Jane book Encounter. Harcourt Children’s Books, 1992. (also in Spanish)

Books for Teachers and Older Students

Fitzhugh, William (ed.) Cultures in Contact: The European Impact on Native Cultural Institutions in Eastern North America, A. D. 1000-1800. Smithsonian, 1985.

Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Knopf Publishing, 2006.

Tyler, S. Lyman. Two Worlds: The Indian Encounter with the European, 1492-1509. University of Utah, 1988.