"Journey to the West: Exploring Columbus’s World" is an interdisciplinary, thematic fourth grade English/Language Arts, Social Studies and Science unit. It provides students with the opportunity to learn more about Christopher Columbus, his world, his motivation and his legacy. Columbus’ successful expedition across the ocean started the Age of Exploration, which led to the colonization of the Americas. It also brought disease and slavery to the native tribes. Students will be given the opportunity to think about the effects of the voyage from both the perspectives of the Spanish and the native peoples, through creative writing. Students will step into Columbus’s shoes as he attempts to persuade Queen Isabella to finance his voyage by writing a persuasive letter. Students will explore the machinery that enabled Columbus to travel across the ocean by participating in an experiment that will result in the building of an Archimedes screw. Throughout the units gives students the opportunity to research the man and his world.
In this lesson, students will study the writings of early European explorers. They will contrast and compare the expressions of these explorers, evaluate content in terms of audience and purpose, and create their own personal diaries. This lesson should take three 90-minute class periods or six 50-minute class periods.