Name/Title: Columbus' Voyage to the New World

Academic content: Social Studies

Purpose of Event: To develop coopertion skills and to teach rules and how to follow them.

Suggested Grade Level: 3-5

Materials Needed: 30 cones, voyage cards (the classroom teacher had my students create these), one jump rope for each group and magic markers.

Physical activity: Cooperation

Description of Idea


1. Have students create voyage cards. In the classroom they should discuss and decide on some situations that may have or did occur to the crew during Columbus voyage to the new world. A group of 4-5 students can then create a situation and write it out on an index card. If they have read Pedro's Journal or any other historical information, they should try and relate some real life situations from the book.

The voyage card must include:



2. Create a map that represents Columbus' voyage. Include 10 to 20 circles along the ships pathway for the students to fill in as they sail cross the ocean. On the map, dictate the way that students are to travel from one color station to the next...i.e., jump backwards, gallop forwards, crawl at a low level, roll sideways.

3. Dress up as a sailor or explorer just for fun!


1. Spread cones throughout the gymnasium and place 1 voyage
card, it's related item, and 1 marker under some of the cones. You want to have plenty of "empty cones" too!
2. Have map and key ready.


1. Divide class into their groups of 5 or 6 and have them decide on who will will represent which member of the crew (see below). The cones are already spread out in the gym with voyage cards and markers underneath them. The sailors stand in line holding onto the jumprope. Each line represents a ship. Now we are ready to sail!


COLUMBUS: Advises team as to where they should sail next (what cone to go to next) - must have a good memory to remember previous locations.

NAVIGATOR: Holds the map during the voyage.

CLERK: Marks the paper with the marker.

CAPTAIN: This is the only team member to touch the cone and tip it so all their shipmates can see what is under it.

INTERPRETER: Picks up the voyage card and reads the card out loud to the group.

SHIP'S BOY/GIRL: Advises Columbus as to where they think they should go next - helps Columbus remember where they have been and helps to decide where to go next.

3. To sail our ships, we must travel as a group, holding hands from cone to cone until we find our respective item. If the students get in a hurry and break their hold on the rope, they yell "sailor overboard" and the whole group must return to the "harbor" (a place designated by the teacher), regroup and start again. They must hang on to the jump rope at all time and they can't travel sideways or tug on the rope.

4. The teacher is the QUEEN ISABELLA or KING FERDINAND and each group will get their assignment from her or him. By looking at the code sheet (see below), the Queen/King will tell each group what object they are looking for first.

5. Each ship (group of students holding hands) must find their designated item, the interpreter reads the voyage card and then they complete the activity and the clerk fills in the circles on the map. Give praise and encouragement to those groups that are performing their roles well and not doing other people's jobs! Report back to the Queen or King to find out which object to search for next.

6. When the team has successfully crossed the ocean (completed the map) and reached their island in the Bahama Island, they report back to the Queen for their reward (You decide!).


STOP WATCH and BLACK MARKER: You are sailing in very calm winds. You must stay here for 30 seconds and wait for the winds in order to continue the voyage. Place the stopwatch back under the cone when you are done timing yourselves as you blow out onto the back of the captain for 30 seconds. Fill in one circle with the black marker.

A BAG OF RICE: It's dinner time! You eat a hearty meal of rice, salted meat and water. It is still early in the voyage. Rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time 10 times in a row. Fill in two circles with the yellow marker.

ROCK: You've just hit a large submerged rock! Stop to make minor repairs. Have your crew stand in a line and pass the rock down your line and back again before you can continue. Place the rock back under the cone and fill in one circle with the brown marker.

A FAN: Steady winds are blowing! Have each person fan another sailor 5 times. Fill in three circles with the blue and continue on your journey.

DICE: The die represents good luck that all explorers need! Roll it and find out how many circles you get to fill in with the purple marker. Place the die back under the cone.

GREEN CREPE PAPER: You have entered the Sargasso Sea. Form a circle with your group and have the ships boy/girl run around the circle 3 times while waving the green crepe paper in the air. Fill in two circles with the green marker.

Here are some other items I have in the gym.



This is a key with six colors. You can add as many as you want depending on the amount of time you have.

Group 1: red, purple, black, orange, blue, green
Group 2: green, black, red, purple, orange, blue
Group 3: blue, red, green, black, purple, orange
Group 4: orange, green, blue, red, black, purple
Group 5: purple, blue, orange, green, red, black
Group 6: black, orange, purple, blue, green, red.


Use the adventure of the Oregon trail, Lewis and Clark expedition.

Submitted by Jane  Koval who teaches at Van Hise Elementary School in Madison , WI . Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 5/23/2000.
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