The Holiday Zone celebrates Columbus Day on October 12.

Language Activities for Columbus Day

| Convincing the Queen | The Log Book of ... |
Once Upon the Santa Maria |
To Celebrate or Not | What If? |

Convincing the Queen
Columbus made many appeals before he finally convinced Queen Isabella of Spain to finance his first voyage. Put yourself in his place. What arguments would you have used to sell a king or queen on financing such a venture? Consider the time in history, the risks involved in sailing, and the uniqueness of Columbus's dream. Prepare a four to five minute speech to "sell" the voyage, and deliver it to your class or family.

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The Log Book of ...
Walk into any library, and you'll find several biographies of Christopher Columbus. How do biographers learn about Christopher Columbus and his voyages? One primary source of information are the detailed log books Columbus kept during each of his voyages. Not only do the log books record the progress the sailors made each day, but they also record their actions along the way, their attitudes, and their interactions with one another and the natives they encountered along the way.

In many ways, the log books resembled a diary or a journal. In fact, some historians have even referred to them as journals because Columbus shares so many of his own thoughts and feelings. Take time to read selections from these logs, then begin your own journal or diary. Write about what happens each day, what others say about it, and how you feel about it.

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Once Upon the Santa Maria
Back in 1492, children often jobs -- and sometimes dangerous jobs. It would not have been uncommon for Columbus to have taken cabin boys as young as 11 or 12 along on his voyages. Imagine that you signed onto the crew of the Santa Maria during that first voyage. Write about preparing for the voyage, the journey itself, spotting land, and docking along the shores of San Salvador.

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To Celebrate or Not
Today, Columbus Day is among the most controversial holidays in the United States. Some see Columbus as a hero, the courageous explorer whose discovery led to the settlement of North and South America. Others see him as a villain, a ruthless conqueror whose discovery led the the destruction of countless Native American people and cultures.

Make a list of reasons people give for both celebrating and refusing to celebrate Columbus day. Decide which side offers the most compelling arguments, then prepare to refute the arguments the other side uses. Debate the issue as a class.

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What If?
What do you think life would have been like if Columbus hadn't discovered the Americas? How do you think your life might have been influenced? Draw a picture that reflects the difference, then explain your drawing to your classmates.

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