In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. We all know the exact year Christopher Columbus set sail and found the Americas because we all have learned this saying. But have your kids learned it? Do they know why Christopher Columbus set sail? Do they even know who Christopher Columbus was? Here are some quick and fun facts to teach your kids so they can learn a bit more about this great explorer.
Christopher Columbus was born, Christoforo Colombo, in 1450 or 1451 in Genoa, Italy. They didn't have birth certificates back then so we are not sure which exact year it was. He lived during the Age of Discovery when Europeans explored for lands and wealth.
When Christopher Columbus was 14 he became an apprentice on a trading ship. An apprentice works for no pay to learn a trade. Back then this is how many learned a trade instead of going to high school or college.
When he was 19, and then again when he was 24, he went on a long voyage to an island called Chios. This island is in the Aegean Sea. On these trips he learned how to navigate long voyages on an open sea.
During the time of Columbus people thought there was one landmass on a flat surface surrounded by one ocean called the Ocean Sea.
Columbus' first expedition was funded by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. He set sail in 1492.
Of Columbus' three ships, The Nina, The Pinta and the Santa Maria, he favored The Nina for its swiftness.
His first voyage took 43 days. The ship was full of fleas and rats. The sailors were full of lice. They wore the same outfit the entire voyage and went barefoot.
When Columbus landed in the Americas he thought he was near China, Japan and the Indies. He actually landed on Watling Island in the Bahamas.
As Columbus thought he had landed in the Indies, he called the native people of the Americas Indians. More than 500 years later we still call the native inhabitants of the Americas Indians.
In Europe and in the Americas, October 12 (the date he landed on his first island in the Caribbean) is celebrated as Columbus Day to honor the great explorer and circumnavigator. Since 1970 the United States celebrates it on the second Monday of October with lots of sales rather than sails. (Sales / Sails is a great way to introduce or reiterate homonyms - words that sound the same, but have a different spelling and meaning - to your kids.)
Although Christopher Columbus was credited as the person who discovered the Americas or New World as many called it, he was not the first one to arrive there. Human beings had lived in the Americas for over 20,000 years. Norse Viking, Leif Erickson, beat Christopher Columbus to the Americas 500 years earlier. Many before Erickson may have been there as well.
His goal was to find a direct route from Europe to Asia. He never found Asia, but he did find the Caribbean Islands, Central America and South America.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to see the coast of South America.
Columbus never set foot on North America.
Columbus brought horses to the New World. They were one of the first European exports to this area of the world.
Natives traded tabaco for horses with the Europeans.
May 20, 1506, Columbus died in Spain not realizing he had found a New World. He still thought he had found a different path to the Indies.
For more fun learning about Christopher Columbus: