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Teacher: Mike Graham who teaches at Heartland Elementary School in Geneva, IL. Mike Graham can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Race Columbus to the New World

Rationale/Purpose of Event: Incorporates physical activies/exercise and reading outside of school. It also involves teamwork as each class is working together to reach the new world.

Suggested Grade Level: K-5

Materials Needed: Empty gym wall or hallway wall and some creativity.

Race Columbus to the New World

Each class is considered one team. Each team is given a boat/ship that will be on display (on the wall of your choice.) Students earn "miles" for their team's boat based on how long they read or exercise outside of school. Students will record their exercise and/or reading on a record sheet at home and have it signed by a parent. When their record sheet is filled, they are to bring it back to me and take a new one. I then tally their minutes and award 5 miles for every 30 minutes of reading or exercise. Their team's boat then moves across the wall (Atlantic Ocean) the appropriate number of miles. Each class is racing against each other and against Columbus to be the first team to reach the New World!

Other Information and Resources

Total distance = 2,076 miles - from Spain (Canary Islands) to the New World (San Salvador)
Columbus travels appx. 82 miles per day
He started on Sept. 6, 1492 and arrived Oct. 12, 1492

Resource books:
1. Where do you think you're going, Christopher Columbus? Author: Jean Fritz
2. Three Ships for Columbus, Author: Eve Spencer
3. A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus, Author: David A Adler
4. The Log of Christopher Columbus, Author: Christopher Columbus


You may want each class to design their own boat or even have them vote on a boat name. Kindergarten may receive 10 miles for every 30 minutes of activity or reading. You may also want to count time that parents read to their childern.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Every child can participate because any activity counts! Walking, sports practice, playing outside, bike ride, scooter, rollerblade, playing at a park.

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Posted on PEC: 9/11/2002 and has received 65 votes.

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