Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Westward with Columbus

Author:   John Dyson

About the Author:

Genre:     Non- Fiction
Grade Level:    4-7

Christopher Columbus has a dream for years to sail across the sea, to find gold, and to have power and riches and glory.  He got to fulfill his dream.  Five hundred years later another dream for John Dylan was to sail across the Atlantic just as Columbus did, with no engine or modern comforts.  He and his crew got to relive that moment in history when people from two different branches of the human race came face to face.

Pre Reading Activity:
Questions: Who is Christopher Columbus? Why do we celebrate Columbus Day? What year did Columbus sail on his voyage? How many ships did he have? What are the names of his ships?

Activity: Discuss with the class how hard it must have been for Columbus to sail across the ocean with no engine.  Then talk about and discuss what things he could have used from today that would have helped him during his voyage.  List them and talk about why the items would be good to have now on a voyage across the ocean.

Post Reading Activity:
Questions: What was interesting about this story?  What was a challenge in this story?  Why did John Dyson want to set sail on a voyage just like Columbus did?  What was the name of the ship he had a replica of?

Activity: After the reading, the students will have a class project. They will get into groups and pretend they are the captains of one Columbus’s ships sailing today.  They will write an essay describing what they would have on their boat for the voyage and why they are choosing the items, and what each item will do for them on their voyage.

This book is a great way to create relevancy to Columbus's voyages for students.  Sometimes it is hard for students to picture what life was like for Columbus and his crew.  Westward with Columbus shows students they can bring history to their lives now.