"In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." And his arrival in the West Indies led to enduring links between Europe and the Americas. In the early years of our nation's history, Christopher Columbus was raised to hero status by writers and historians wishing to create a common memory for our new nation. Five hundred years later, by the quincentennial of 1992, Columbus' name had become somewhat tarnished. Is Columbus a hero worth celebrating, or was he a cruel imperialist? Discover the debate, and decide for yourself.
This BBC Famous People site is one of my picks for lower elementary grades. First click your way through Learn for a slide show of Columbus facts. Then test your knowledge with the four-question illustrated multiple-choice quiz. For more Columbus, mouse over to Journeys in the left-hand menu. Other Famous People to explore include Henry VII, Pocahontas, and Florence Nightengale.
Got elementary school kids? Then Enchanted Learning is your second must-see site for Columbus Day surfing. Best clicks are the Christopher Columbus Activity Books for early readers, printable maps of the New World, and the Columbus Day crafts. Some activities are reserved for paying members, but there is plenty here that is still free.
In 1484, Columbus attempted to convince King John II of Portugal to sponsor his voyage west across the Atlantic. But Portugal was quite satisfied with what they had achieved in Africa and India, and felt no desire to explore what had previously been a disappointing Atlantic. Thus rejected, Columbus turned to Spain. His first attempt there was also unsuccessful, but in 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain finally agreed to sponsor Columbus. This change of heart was due largely to Isabella's desire to spread Christianity and find new sources of wealth.