"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.


  • Language Arts > General
  • Science > General
  • Social Studies > General

Education Levels:

  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5


Christopher Columbus Columbus Age of Exploration Discovery of America Discovery Trade Effects of Trade Spice European Exploration Exploration Spanish Colonization Spanish Colonies



Access Privileges:

Public - Available to anyone

License Deed:

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0


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Curriki Rating
On a scale of 0 to 3
On a scale of 0 to 3

This resource was reviewed using the Curriki Review rubric and received an overall Curriki Review System rating of 3, as of 2009-07-27.

Component Ratings:

Technical Completeness: 2
Content Accuracy: 3
Appropriate Pedagogy: 3

Reviewer Comments:

This is a comprehensive interdisciplinary unit designed for a 4th grade class on Christopher Columbus and his background, historical context, interactions, and impact. Students will be hooked immediately with the premise that they are helping "J.K. Bowling" research a new series of books about the famous explorer. Each of the seven lessons addresses a different performance standard: persuasive letter writing, internet research, science experiment, etc. and includes recommendations for accommodations, worksheets, answer keys, and step-by-step procedures. This unit is rich in content and creativity. A great opportunity for a grade-level team of Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science teachers to work together on a project that is meaningful and fun for students.

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