It is Columbus Day! A great day to talk about the complexities of history.

Columbus Day is a great time to talk to kids about how history is not black and white and also how, depending on who you speak with about an event, witnesses’ versions differ.  Sometimes accounts vary because of honest mistakes and sometimes because people lie for different reasons.   It amazes me how the kids are able to grasp these concepts without judgment or drama. 

We used the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia to introduce Christopher Columbus.  We talked about how he was Italian and how even though they are American, they are also Italian.  Then we watched the video for and sang the 1492 song.  Then we talked about various descriptions of Columbus’ trips and discoveries, what he was looking for, what he found, and how he treated the natives.  I tried to find seemingly unbiased sources like this and this but also wanted to show differing views like this and this.  We spent a bit of time talking about meeting our friends from history where they lived, meaning trying to understand the story from their time and perspective (in addition to our own, which is the easy part).  I am hoping to make this a theme in our lessons.

When I asked the kids what they thought about Columbus, the answer was, “He was brave and I think he was mean and good.  Everybody has got a little meanness and goodness.”   It’s a start!

The kids then asked to play with playdoh so we got messy and ended up with the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

Columbus’ three ships, plus a shark and a fish, to show how brave sailors were to take such long trips to unknown places.


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