Columbus Day Theme and Activities

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In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Here are some activies to teach young children about Columbus Day.

Columbus Day Songs and Fingerplays

Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue (Tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb)
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
Ocean blue, ocean blue.
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
To find this land for me and you.

Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
Ocean blue, ocean blue.
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
In fourteen hundred ninety-two.

Christopher Columbus (Tune: I'm a Little Teapot)
Christopher Columbus sailed the sea.
Ships on the ocean, one, two, three.
When the trip was finished, he could see
America, the home of you and me.

Columbus Sailed the Ocean (Tune: Pop Goes the Weasel)
All around the great wide world,
Columbus sailed the ocean
To prove the world was big & round
That's real devotion!

Columbus Day Art Activities

Ship Art
Have children create ships with construction paper or draw on paper. Then use blue fingerpaint to create the ocean around the ship.

Egg Carton Ships
Give children three individual egg holders from an egg carton. Let them decorate or paint their egg cartons. Stick a toothpick with paper flag taped or glued into each egg carton, so the children will have three ships.

Puffy Paint Boat
Using a black marker, have children draw a boat on water, or print out the boat template. Make puffy paint by having the children mix together equal amounts of shaving cream and glue, along food coloring to the mixture. Using the Puffy Paint mixture, have the children paint the boat and water.

Boat in a Jar
Give each child a walnut shell half, a small piece of playdough, a toothpick and a small square of white paper for a sail. Let the kids decorate their sails. Take the lid of a baby food jar and squish blue playdough for water. Place the walnut boat into the playdough and screw on the baby food jar so that it stands lid-side down.

Columbus Day Math and Science

Boat Graph
Create a bar graph of which children have been on a boat before.

Ship Patterns
Provide pattern strips with cutouts or pictures of the three ships - The Nina, The Pinta, and The Santa Maria - and have children create ship patterns.

Sink or Float?
Provide a variety of objects such as a cork, crayon, cotton ball, feather, small plastic toy boat, etc. One at a time, have a child choose an item and predict whether it will sink or float in a tub of water.

Ocean Wave Sensory Bottle
Mix blue food coloring with 1/4 bottle water, add mineral oil until the bottle is 2/3 full. Gently rock the bottle back and forth and watch the wave. Add shells and other sea creatures if desired.

Globe Observation
Look at a globe and trace the route that Christopher Columbus took. Talk about round and flat.

Columbus Day Motor Skills and Movement

Scavenger Hunt
Christopher Columbus and his crew needed lots of supplies to be able to survive on the long journey to America. Make a list of necessities that the students would need on a long boat trip and hide these items around the classroom. Hide items like soap, snacks, toothbrushes and other necessary items that people would need for a long journey.

Columbus Day Snacks

Apple Ships
Make sails out of toothpicks and paper. Put them into 3 cut apples for each child to represent Columbus' three ships.

More Columbus Day Resources