Your students probably don't know much about Christopher Columbus at this age, but through discussions and projects, your little learners will gain knowledge and have fun with these Columbus Day activities for kindergarten.
All about Christopher Columbus
Engage your students in discussions about Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, for a brief understanding of his mission and vessels. Talk about why he set sail to find the East Indies to buy silk fabrics and spices. He sailed three famous ships given to him by the King and Queen of Spain: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. After sailing for over 72 days, he touched land in San Salvador on October 12, 1492 thinking he reached his destination, but instead he found two new continents, North and South America.
With this discussion bring out a world map or globe and show the children how far the trip was from Spain to San Salvador and the long voyage across the oceans by boat. Children also learn from stories about great men and their explorations. Make sure to obtain books from the library or your local bookstores about Columbus.
Columbus Rocking Ship
Christopher Columbus sailed with his crew on three large ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Invite the kids to make a simple ship craft to replica one of the famous ships that sailed the ocean blue.
- Paper plate
- White paper
- 3-wooden craft sticks
- 1-metal paper fastener
- Light blue sheet of construction paper (8 ½" by 11")
- Crayons and/or markers
- Safety scissors
- The children will each need one-half of the paper plate. Let the students cut on a pre-drawn line with safety scissors.
- Draw shapes (one square, one rectangle and one triangle) on white construction paper. Invite the kids to cut these out as well. Tape each shape onto a craft stick to make the sails.
- Have the children color the paper plate (boat) with a brown crayon or marker.
- Tape the three sails onto the back of the ship.
- Lay a sheet of light blue paper on the table. Challenge the children to color (or even paint) the lower part of the page as the ocean with waves and even sea creatures inside the water. The top of the page is the sky where the kids can draw the sun and billowy clouds.
- When finished, position the ship onto the sea and push the paper fastener through the bottom of the ship and the construction paper.
- Write Columbus Day and the year on the boat.
- Show the children how to rock the boat along the waves by gently moving it up and down holding the one point and letting the fastener do its job.
Land Ahoy Telescope
Make simple telescopes for the children to dramatize how Columbus searched for land.
- 1-cardboard paper towel tube
- 1-paper cup or a Solo disposable plastic cup
- Knife (for adult use only)
- Heavy-duty glue
- Paint and paintbrush
- Columbus Day stickers (optional)
- Cut an X-shape into the bottom of the paper cup. An adult should do this.
- Run a bead of glue along the bottom edge of the cardboard tube (a couple inches from the bottom edge). Gently push the paper towel tube inside the cup bottom. Let it sit to dry thoroughly.
- Invite the children to paint the entire telescope the color of their choice.
- When dry, decorate the telescope with stickers.
Italian Flag Replica
Columbus was Italian and this flag craft represents the country of his birth.
- 10-wooden craft sticks
- Red, white, and green paints
- Heavy-duty glue or low-temperature glue gun
- Waxed or parchment paper
- Small piece of cardboard
- Place the sticks onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper.
- Paint 3 sticks red, 3 sticks white and 3 sticks green on one side.
- When dry, arrange the colors to look like an Italian flag (red, white, green).
- Glue the sticks onto a small square of cardboard in the proper order. Take another plain stick and glue it down on the backside alongside of the green side for a handle. You can use the same size craft stick or a larger tongue depressor.
The kids can now hold up the Italian flag that represents the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
Cooking Activity for Columbus Day
Make egg ships for a lunch or snack activity for this holiday. Peel hard-boiled eggs and cut them in half lengthwise. These halves are the ships. Take a slice of American cheese and cut a smaller square. Help the children thread the cheese onto a toothpick and then insert this pick into the egg yolk. You can decorate the egg ship with pieces of olives to represent the crew on board. Serve the egg boats on a blue paper plate to represent the sea.
Variation: Instead of cheese sails, colored paper sails can be used.
Columbus Day Games
Sailing with Columbus
As Columbus sailed the seas with his crew, there was no stores to visit for supplies. They needed to plan ahead and take the necessities with them from the start of the voyage. To play this game, seat the kids in a circle and tell them that this group is going to decide what Columbus will need. Each child will name a different item. Start by saying, "I'm sailing with Columbus and I'm taking water to drink." The next child will repeat your statement and add his item. Continue around the circle with each child repeating all the items mentioned by his partners before him and adding his own. What a great memory game!
Something Old and Something New Game
Columbus and his sailors were on the ships for many days and always looking for something new, especially land. Have the children seated in a circle and the adult will place about five items inside the circle. It can be a cup, ball, pencil, toy, etc. Have the children concentrate on the items and then close their eyes and hide their heads in their laps. Now, the leader says to open your eyes. Pick a child and have them recite the objects in the circle. Now, have the kids close their eyes again and the adult will take away one object and replace it with something new. Repeat the process of the game and hoping the children will see something missing and something new. Continue the game as long as there is interest.
- Rocking Boat adapted from Classroom Celebrations, Teaching & Learning Company, copyright 1996, pp. 56