Before Columbus and Christopher Columbus Homeschool Resources

Before Columbus and Christopher Columbus Homeschool Resources

American History years prehistory-1492 (excluding Native American History, which I hope to cover elsewhere)

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Sonlight Selections: 

American History Easy Make and Learn Books:

  • In Interactive 3D Maps, the following projects apply: 
    • The First People Arrive in America Map; (shows the path people took when crossing the Bering Straight, along with some of the animals along the trail
    • Vikings Discover America Map; shows the map of the Viking Journey with sod huts to represent the final landing place
    • Columbus Lands in America; shows the map Columbus took across the ocean, 

Arts and Crafts: 


Special Mention:

Luis de Torres Sails to Freedom

Luis de Torres is a secret Jew, a Catholic convert, who, in his heart, remains Jewish. When the Inquisition comes and Jews are forced to leave Spain, Luis decides to join a sailing expedition to new lands in 1492. He has just his faith, his wits, and a silver hamsa to protect him on his journey. And could it be that Jewish tradition helps protect the ship? How can the Jewish people leave Spain before they are arrested, without sailing on a holy day?  Picture book. Younger to Middle children. Spain.


Note: I have given each book a category for age that I think they will most appeal to.  Many of these books will appeal to multiple age groups, so feel free to adjust as needed.

Thousands of years ago 

The Discovery of the Americas; starts with the land bridge in Siberia/Alaska, the oldest date mentioned in 20,000 years ago, and goes through the many possible discoveries of America before and after Columbus. Longer picture book. Level 6.3. Older Students


Brendan the Navigator fun look at the life of an Irish saint who may have discovered America long before Columbus or the Vikings, Jean Fritz, level 810 Lexile. Younger and Middle Students. 


  • Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 Mann constructs the narrative around three crucial questions that continue to confound historians today: Was the New World really new? Why were the Europeans successful? What ecological impact did Natives have on their surroundings? From the pre-Columbian genetic engineering of maize to the existence of pyramids older than the Egyptian variety, Mann’s lucid answers to these questions represent current scholarly opinion and point the way toward future exploration and discovery. Students and teachers will benefit greatly from this engaging exploration of America’s most overlooked and misunderstood historical periods. Older students. 
  • Before Columbus: The Leif Eriksson Expedition Landmark books historical fiction biography, level 5.9 Canada. Older Students.
  • Viking Adventure, a Sonlight book by Clyde Robert Bulla, historical fiction, Grade 3 Readers. Canada. Middle Students.
  • Who Was Leif Erikson? Part of the Who Was series, nonfiction. Level 6.1 Canada. Middle Students. 


  • Around the World in a Hundred Years Nonfiction look at navigators and explorers from Prince Henry the Navigator to Magellan.  Also includes Bartholomew Diaz, Columbus, Vasco de Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral, John Cabot, Amerigo Vespucci, Juan Ponce de Leon, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa. By Jean Fritz, Level 6.8. Middle to Older Students. 
  • Explor-a-Maze, Solve mazes while learning about different world explorers. Middle Students.


  • *The Poet King of Tezcoco Longer picture book for older children about a Mexican king. Level 6.5 Middle to Older Students. 


1492 Year of Columbus A shorter version of the book The World of Columbus and Sons, by the same author, Genevieve Foster, this book is better suited to middle students. It looks at the famous people and places around the world in 1492, as well as a biography of Columbus. Middle students.

Aboard the Santa Maria; nonfiction look at the famous boat. Level 4.3. Younger to Middle Students.

Admiral and the Deck Boy Long, Historical Fiction, Reader/Read-Aoud, similar to Pedro’s Journal, but longer and more storyline, but the child is named Carlos instead of Pedro. Older Students. 

Christopher Columbus: Across the Ocean Sea by the same author as many of Sonlight’s missionary stories. Older Students. 

Christopher Columbus and the Voyage of 1492 In graphic novel format, outlines the life of Christopher Columbus, focusing on his first voyage to the Americas in 1492. Graphic Novel. Younger to Middle students.

Christopher Columbus: Step Into Reading early reader biography, level 2.7. Younger Students. 

Christopher Columbus and the Americas (Fact Vs. Fiction in U.S. History) In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. Or did he? Look at all the facts and discover the fiction through primary sources, infographics, and leveled text. Readers will learn the full story about Christopher Columbus’s famous voyage.

Christopher Columbus and the Taino People: History Smashers Myths! Lies! Secrets! Uncover the hidden truth about Christopher Columbus, and learn all about the Taino people. Perfect for fans of the I Survived books and Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed across the ocean and discovered America. Right? WRONG! Columbus never actually set foot in what is now the United States. His voyages took him to islands in the Caribbean and along the coast of South America. The truth is, when Columbus first arrived, Indigenous peoples, including the Taino, had been living there for thousands of years, raising their families, running their societies, and trading with their neighbors. He didn’t “discover” the lands at all! And his name? Not even really Christopher Columbus! Cowritten by bestselling author Kate Messner and our country’s premier Taino scholar, this fascinating addition to the series is the one that teachers have been asking for and that kids need to read. Lexile 1070.

Christopher Columbus by R. Conrad Stein. Nonfiction. Describes the voyages and discoveries of Columbus and their aftermath.

Encounter, A look at Columbus from the viewpoint of the Native Americans he encountered. Note: Some images might scare young children.  Picture book. Level 4.2. Middle to Older Students. 

Exploring the New World: An Interactive History Adventure A Choose-your-own-adventure style book, choose to follow Columbus, Coronado, and La Salle.  The reader’s choices reveal the historical details from the perspective of a sailor or a Taino Indian during Columbus’ voyage in 1492, a Spanish adventurer or a Zuni Indian during Coronado’s 1540 expedition, and a member of Sieur de La Salle’s expedition down the Mississippi River in 1682. With 5 story paths, 43 choices, and 18 endings, each time you read, you can follow a new story.  Younger to Middle students.

Follow the Dream Picture book, Level 5.1. Younger to Middle Students. 

If You Were There in 1492 Long, for older children, content information about life across Europe in 1492, including some discussion of how the Spanish treated the Moors, Jews, and the Spanish Inquisition, but not too detailed, level 6.3. Middle to Older Students. 

Meet Christopher Columbus – Landmark When Christopher Columbus was young, he worked for his father making cloth. But he did not want to be a cloth-maker all his life. He wanted to see new lands and have adventures. He wanted to be a sailor! By the time he was 25, Christopher had sailed to France, Africa, and Greece. He had seen strange cities and had many adventures. But his greatest adventure would come when he set out for China and found a whole new world instead. 

Pedro’s Journal 

The Cruise of Mr. Christopher Columbus A brief biography of Columbus that relates how he developed an interest in sailing and describes the journey that resulted in the discovery of America and proof that the world was round. Younger Students. 

The Great Adventures of Christopher Columbus: A Pop-Up Book, Younger to Middle Students. 

The Story of Columbus Early Reader Level 2, Nonfiction, Level 3.8. Younger Students

The World of Columbus and Sons Measured by the lifetime of Columbus and his sons, this book spans 1451-1539. With Columbus as the central figure of this narrative, readers will also learn the fascinating stories of Prince Henry the Navigator, Ivan III of Russia, Gutenberg, Queen Isabella, Leonardo da Vinci, Mohammed II, the African ruler Nomi Mansa, Martin Luther, Erasmus, Albrecht Dürer, Copernicus, Michaelangelo, and many others. Readers will learn of the religious, cultural, and scientific changes that ushered in a new age of exploration and discovery. Older students.

What Columbus Found: It Was Orange, It Was Round Easy Reader Level 1, Nonfiction, Level 1.6. Younger Students.

Where do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Colombus? Long, Nonfiction, Jean Fritz, makes a great read-aloud or reader, level 5.8. Middle to Older Students. 

Who Was Christopher Columbus (Who Was series) Nonfiction easy to read biography. Level 4.2. Middle Students.

You Wouldn’t Want to Sail with Christopher Columbus Medium, Graphic Novel or comic style, Nonfiction, has some info about ways one could become injured or die, level 4.4. Middle students.

Coloring Pages: 


Lapbooks/Notebooking Pages/Worksheets: 

Movies (Longer than 30 minutes) (Also see Videos)

Museums/Field Trips (including virtual): 




Videos (1-30 minutes): 

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