Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Sail, Sail, Sail Your Ship!

Cathy Burgess
Bay District Schools


Students learn about the celebration of Columbus Day and the history behind it by creating a booklet.


The student understands the significance and historical contributions of historical figures during this period (e.g., the journeys of famous explorers).

The student knows traditionally patriotic activities and various holidays that reflect the shared values, principles, and beliefs of Americans.

The student extends and refines understanding that history tells the story of people and events of other times and places.

The student knows selected people and events prior to 1880 honored in commemorative holidays (for example, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, Flag Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran's Day, Presidents' Day).


-Pictures of Columbus, Ships: Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria, Spanish flag, Spain, ocean water, new world (land)
-Flannel board
- Suggested Books:
Carpenter, COLUMBUS DISCOVERS AMERICA, Chicago: Troll Associates, 1992
Marzollo, IN 1492, New York:Scholastic Inc. 1995
Showers, COLUMBUS DAY, New York: McMillan/McGraw, 1991
(or other similar Columbus Day books)
-Blue construction paper 12x18
-Brown construction paper (half of an 8x10)
-White construction paper (small piece for sail)
-Primary writing paper
-Popsicle stick
-Ship stencil
-Sail stencil
-Weekly Reader articles about Columbus Day
-Poem on chart -Sail, Sail, Sail Your Ship- by Unknown
-Song on chart -Columbus- by Judith Gibault


1. Duplicate copies of Columbus sheets to color.
2. Gather map, globe, pictures, and books.
3. Make 10 ship stencils and sail stencils.
4. Gather materials: construction paper, glue and scissors.


Day 1
1. Introduce lesson by asking questions such as: What is a holiday? Who knows what holidays are in the month of October beside Halloween? There is a holiday in October that we celebrate called Columbus Day. Has anybody ever heard of this? Who knows what an explorer is? (An explorer is someone who travels and discovers new places.)
Tell students: This lesson is about an explorer named Christopher Columbus. He made an important discovery called America. The United States of America is where we live. (Show this on a map/globe. ) Today in this lesson you will learn what Columbus Day is all about and why we celebrate it as a national holiday.

2. Read the book, COLUMBUS DAY by Paul Showers. Discuss it as it is read aloud. Use a special helper to place flannel board pictures on a flannel board as the story progresses. Also, use a globe or map to point out key places of the voyage.

3. Stop when the book talks about the year 1492 and subtract it from the present year to find out how long ago this was.

4. After the book is finished, have students retell the story in their own words using the flannel board pieces. Students should be able to orally restate these facts:
a. Christopher Columbus was an explorer.
b. An explorer is a person who travels to new places.
c. He sailed for the country of Spain;
d. The Spanish flag symbol is a red cross.
e. There were 3 ships: Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria on the voyage.
f. He discovered America and that is the reason we celebrate Columbus Day.

5. Begin making Columbus Day booklets. First, fold the blue construction paper in half so it opens like a book.
Make the front cover: Students trace and cut ship from brown construction paper stencil and sail from white construction paper. Glue popcicle stick under ship with enough room left to glue white sail on top. With a red crayon make the symbol for Spain on the sail. Students copy this sentence and fill in the blank : Columbus sailed with three ships, the Nina, _______, and the Santa Maria.

6. Introduce and sing Columbus song and poem.

Day 2

1. Begin by reviewing and asking students to
think back to yesterday Ask: who can tell me what holiday and explorer we talked about?
2. Sing Columbus song, and recite Columbus poem.
3. Read Weekly Reader articles such as An Underwater explorer, Columbus Day, and An Explorerís Ship. Discuss pictures.
4. Pass out the Columbus booklets. On the inside front cover, have the students color and glue pictures of Columbus. Students copy this sentence and fill in the blanks: Christopher _________ discovered _________.
On the other inside backcover, glue a copy of the Columbus poem and allow students to illustrate it.

Day 3

1. Review Columbus Day facts by retelling story with flannel board.
2. Sing the Columbus Song and recite the poem together as a class.
3. Read and discuss, IN 1492, by Marzallo.
4. Pass out primary writing paper. Make a web about Columbus on the board. Brainstorm a list of words students need to know how to spell. Students write as much as they can about Columbus Day ( at least three sentences or more). Share the rubric by writing it on the board and discussing it orally with students so they are aware of the assessment expectations. Glue writing to back cover.
5. Collect booklets for assessment and evaluation.


Teacher uses Columbus Day Rubric to assess the Columbus Day Booklets.

Columbus Day Rubric

S- Each page is correctly completed in the Columbus booklet. All blanks are filled in, colored and glued. There are at least three sentences written (can be more) that include:
*Columbus lived long ago.
*The history of the voyage or an event that happened.
*We celebrate Columbus Day because he discovered America.
*A holiday is a special way of remembering a person.

N- Two or three pages are completed in the Columbus booklet. 2 or 3 blanks are filled in and pages colored and glued. There are 2 sentences written about Columbus Day that includes some of the following:
* Columbus lived long ago.
*The history of the voyage or an event that happened.
*We celebrate Columbus Day because he discovered America.
* A holiday is a special way of remembering a person.

U- One page completed in the Columbus Day booklet. One page colored and glued. One sentence written about Columbus that includes any of the following:
*Columbus lived long ago.
*The history of the voyage or an event that happened.
*We celebrate Columbus Day because he discovered America.
*A holiday is a special way of remembering a person.


An extension to this lesson would be an activity on map skills.
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