Explorers Did Columbus Really Discover America?

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus is given credit for discovering the New World, but was he really the first person to step foot in this new land. What about the Native Americas? What about Leif Ericson? Or what about Americus Vespucius? 

 Approximately 20,000 years ago, the first Native Americans came over a land bridge between Asia and North America. This bridge was over 1,000 miles wide. In 1492 about one million American Indians lived in the United States and Canada and about twenty million Indians lived in South America. 

 In 1000 A. D. sailors from Norway called Vikings traveled from Iceland to Greenland. They were led by Eric the Red. Eric the Red founded a colony on Greenland. Later his son, Leif Ericson, led a group to Newfoundland in Canada. Unfortunately no maps were made of these travels; however, in 1965 a Viking map dated 1440 was found. The Viking map showed parts of northeastern Canada.

 About the same time Columbus was making his third voyage, another explorer sailed for North America. His name was Americus Vespucius. Vespucius made maps of his travels. A German school teacher who was writing a new geography book found these maps. The school teacher called the New World America in honor of Vespucius. 

 So who really discovered America?.

Did Columbus Really Discover America? Activities

  • Build a Viking ship.

    Use modeling clay to shape the boat. Make the shape similar to a canoe. At the front of the ship use extra modeling clay to form a dragon head. Cut out small circles of cardboard to represent shields. Attach the shields to the side of the ship. Place ice cream sticks between each shield for oars. Additional ice cream sticks can be used as a mast in the center of the ship. Cut a rectangular sail from paper. Punch two holes near the top and bottom of the sail. Weave the sail on the mast.Build a Viking ship.

    Student Craft Project - Building a Viking Ship Student Craft Project - Building a Viking Ship


  • Map Activity

    Using a world map complete the following activities. Outline Leif Ericson's route to America in blue. Outline Christopher Columbus's route in red. Outline Americus Vespuci's route in green. Label the following places: Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Atlantic Ocean, Great Britain, South America and the Great Lakes.

  • Take the online quiz on this material.