Thursday, October 6, 2011

Columbus the Cartographer ~ A Mini Unit Study

Columbus Book & DVD Lists

Some picture books about Columbus you can read to your children are: 
Chapter Book:
You may want your older children to write a short report about his life after reading the above books and watching the video.

Columbus Before the Queen, by Peter Rothermel
Columbus Picture Study

Ask your children the following questions about the painting above:
  • Can you find the globe in the painting above?
  • Did you think globes existed at that point in history if people thought the world was flat?
  • Do you think the painter is showing a sense of humor?
  • Do you notice how tall Columbus is in this picture (why do you think that was done)?
Christopher Columbus by Carl von Piloty
Columbus with Geography Study

More questions to ask your children:
  • Did you know that Columbus was a cartographer? That simply means he was a "map maker".
  • Did you know that an atlas is basically a book full of maps?
  • Though a map is useful, it is not as accurate as a globe because it is impossible to make a round sphere flat without some distortion. Look at Greenland on your map. It looks larger than South America. Now, look at Greenland on your globe. Isn't there a huge difference? Your globe is the safest to use when accuracy of size is needed.

Columbus: West Indies Map (1892),
Illustrating presumed route of the first voyage of Columbus in the West Indies
  • The above map illustrates the "presumed route" and first voyage of Columbus.
  • Direction Columbus Sailed

  • Print out a copy of a blank world map and have the children label Spain on the map. See if they can find and label the island, San Salvador where he landed. Now, have your students draw a route that Columbus might have taken using a dotted line to mark the way (hint below).

Lastly, younger children may enjoy coloring the ships that Columbus sent out to sea with. Here are some additional coloring pages and a word search which you can print out.

* You may want to be cautious about creating a hero out of Columbus and only teaching the facts of his discoveries. Books being printed now are suggesting he was responsible for some undesirable events in history (the verdict is still out on that one but I thought I would include this thought just in case).

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