Columbus and America


The lesson introduces students to Christopher Columbus and his possible discovery of America.  The life of Columbus is presented to students, and his voyages to the New World.  As you discuss the discovery of America, students may be informed that there is often controversy about his discovery.  The main point of the lesson is to show Columbus’ lead in opening travel to the Americas and connecting Europe to the New World.  His determination and courage should also be made aware of to the students.  There are many Internet sources that may include differences related to facts about Christopher Columbus.

Columbus and America Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Columbus and America
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 3-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

*Note: These lessons are PDF downloads. You will be directed to the download once you checkout. Clarendon Learning resources are FREE, we rely 100% on donations to operate our site. Thank you for your support!


The detailed life of Columbus is presented to students in this lesson, along with his many challenging voyages to the New World.  The main point of the lesson is to show Columbus’ impact on opening travel to the Americas and connecting Europe to the New World.  Information about America before Columbus landed here is briefly covered in the introduction, including Native Americans and Leif Eriksson.  Because of the variety of information about Columbus that can be found on the Internet, links that support positive views of Columbus are included with this lesson.  The final link provides “alternative” views and ideas about Columbus, so all side of the controversy may be presented if you choose.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instructions: 

  1. Ask students: Have you ever wanted to be the first person to discover something?  What was it?  Why would you want to discover it?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask:  Who discovered America?  Who is Christopher Columbus?  Tell me everything you know about the beginning of America and Christopher Columbus.
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. What do you think it would have been like to travel across the ocean over 500 years ago, during the 1400s?
  4. Allow for further responses and discussion. Introduce Columbus and America.
  5. Distribute Columbus and America content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  6. Distribute Activity pages. Pair students.  Read and review the instructions.  Distribute supplies, pair students to play the game.  Circulate through the room to ensure students are following the instructions.  Allow students time to complete one or more games.
  7. Switch students’ partners, allow 3 or 4 students to play against each other. Students may play in teams.
  8. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  9. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  10. In closing, ask students: What do you think, during Columbus’ time, would be the most enjoyable part of crossing the Atlantic Ocean?  What would be the most difficult part?  Why?

Common Core State Standards:


Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources: 

Many more teaching resources in Download!

Want more social studies resources? Check out our other Social Studies Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies