American children frequently learn about Christopher Columbus in their social studies and history classes. Columbus is famous for his 15th century ocean voyages and for being one of the first Europeans to set foot in the Americas. If you are talking to your kids about Columbus, there are several facts about him and his life that might spark their interest. You can use a discussion of Christopher Columbus to start a general discussion with your young students about American and European history.

Royal Sponsorship

Explorers and adventurers are often fascinating topics for young children, as are medieval kings and queens. As you educate your children about Columbus, let them know that Europeans at the time did not know that the Americas existed. Describe to them how Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who wanted to find a shorter route to India, but he could not pay for his own adventures. As a result, he went to several different kings of Europe asking for help to pay for his trip. He was not successful until he met the Spanish royal couple, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who agreed to use Spanish funds to finance Columbus' voyages.

1492

Christopher Columbus and his crew famously sailed on their voyage, paid for by Spain, in the year 1492. A discussion of the year 1492 with your children might lead to a greater discussion of history. Kids might enjoy thinking about the year 1492 and how long ago it was.

Ships

Columbus and his crew sailed three ships in their first expedition in 1492: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Children may be interested to know that ships can have names. Talk to them about what life might have been like on the ships for the sailors in the late 1400s.

Mistakes

Talk to yours kids about common misconceptions about the world that people held in Columbus' time. Discuss with them how many Europeans believed that the world was flat. Mention how it was Columbus' goal to reach India in his travels, but he landed in the Americas instead. The lesson for children may be that everyone makes mistakes, and some mistakes can often lead to good and unexpected things.

Legend

Christopher Columbus is remembered every October in the United States with the holiday Columbus Day. There are also many cities in the United States named after Christopher Columbus. Discuss with kids why they think that Christopher Columbus is so important in American history.

Controversy

There is some controversy surrounding Columbus' lasting legacy because of the way that Columbus and his crew treated native people whom they encountered in the Americas. They enslaved some native people and forced some to go to Spain. This might be a good opportunity to discuss with kids the reasons why they should treat new and different people with respect.