As part of Appendix A, this is the second of seven role-plays entitled “Travel through Time with the Story Genie: A Role-Playing Unit on the life and times of Christopher Columbus.”
This Creative Master’s Thesis I completed as part of the requirements for my master’s degree in Elementary Education with a specialization in storytelling. The purpose of this study was to create a role-playing program of the life and times of Christopher Columbus for use with fifth-grade social studies students. It was intended that this creative unit may either be used as a substitute for or in conjunction with a textbook approach. These seven role-plays are also appropriate for grades three and four. The links to all role-plays, tests, and teacher scripts will be included.
Please note: The links to the downloadable PDF files of the teacher script and the student role-play are included at the end of this article.
Travel through Time with the Story Genie: A Role-Playing Unit on the life and times of Christopher Columbus
© 1989 re-told by Debbie Dunn; © 2010 revision re-told by Debbie Dunn
Part Two of the Seven-Part Program
Genie: Hello, boys and girls. I’m back, just like I promised. It’s time to bring Christopher back again. I sure hope I get the magic trick right this time. Who remembers what the magic trick was? (Teacher should elicit students’ responses.)
I’ll go around the room as fast as I can. You tap the magic jewel on my crown and say “Christopher Columbus” as fast as you can. Don’t forget to cross your fingers this time. I don’t want to get Christopher upset again. (Go around room quickly. Then go back to front of room.)
Keep your fingers crossed. Everyone point to the magic jewel in my crown and let’s all say “Christopher Columbus” three times.
All: Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus.
C.C.: Hey, where am I? Who turned out the lights? Oh no! Not again! Story Genie, help!
Genie: Oh dear! Oh dear! What could have gone wrong? Let me think!
All of you touched my magic jewel. Right? (Teacher should elicit responses from class for each question.)
All of you said “Christopher Columbus” as fast as you could. Right?
All of you crossed your fingers. Right?
All of you pointed to the magic jewel in my crown and said “Christopher Columbus” three times. Right?
And all of you crossed your legs. Right?
Wrong? You mean, I forgot to tell you to cross your legs? Oh, no! Silly me! I’m going to need the help of the same person who helped us last time. Would that person come up again and get Christopher out of this terrible fix?
Thank you. Tap the magic jewel on my crown three times and say “Christopher Columbus.” Okay! Fix it so that Christopher can see again. Oh, thank you _______________ (child’s name).
C.C.: Oh, thank you so much_____________ (child’s name). Story Genie! When will you ever learn? Well, never mind. Hey, I know you people. You are the same group I visited with when I was nine years old. Boy, I surely do want to thank you. Your letters really helped. My father realized, thanks to you, that the sailing life was the life for me. He’s going to let me go on some ship voyages several times a year to sell the cloth he weaves. I’ll also sell the wine and cheese that he makes. Then, I’ll pick up some wool for him to do some more weaving with. By the way, I’m currently fourteen years old. Does anybody remember in what city and country I live?
Right, Genoa, Italy. Can anybody figure out what year it is now? I was born in 1451 and I’m 14 years old.
Right, it’s now 1465. Well . . .
C.C.: What’s that, Story Genie? Oh, your visitors are here already? Okay. Hey, kids, Story Genie has some more visitors to come in to talk with you today. But, I’ll try to come back to talk to you some more. Good-bye!
Genie: Okay, boys and girls, I have some more visitors to talk to you today. I’ll need a father, a mother, 14-year-old Christopher, and 12-year-old Bartholomew. Oh, I’ll also need two narrators again.
By the way, you will notice that Christopher will age very fast today. So, additionally, I will need a 25-year-old Christopher, a captain of a ship, 2 sailors, a pirate-captain, a pirate-sailor, and a 23-year-old Bartholomew.
Script for Lesson Two on the life and times of Christopher Columbus
Narrator 1: Domenico, Christopher’s father, had a change of heart. He has decided that Christopher should be allowed to go on some short voyages on the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s Domenico.
Father: Well, well, well. Here I am, talking to the group of boys and girls who wrote such persuasive letters. You say that a son should be allowed to be what he wants to be. You say that my son Christopher really wants to be a sailor. You say that my son will not be happy to be a weaver like his father and grandfather. You also say that Bartholomew wants to be a mapmaker.
Well, well, well. I will tell you a secret. My wife, Susanna, has been trying to tell me the same thing too. All of you are ganging up on me. Well, at least, you didn’t mention Giovanni and Bianca in your letters. Perhaps, they would like to stay with their old dad in the weaving shop.
I’m not totally convinced. Perhaps Christopher will get tired of sailing after a few voyages. Perhaps not. I’ve decided that I will give him the opportunity to find out. Since he is fourteen years old, he is now old enough to go on his first ship voyage. I will give him some cloth, some wine, and some cheese to sell for me in some towns that border the Mediterranean Sea. He will pick up some wool for me to weave in my looms and other supplies that we need.
Do you boys and girls believe that I can trust my son Christopher to behave on these voyages? (Wait for the class to answer.)
Do you think he is really old enough and responsible enough to be on his own like that? (Wait for the class to answer.)
Well, okay! I will let him go. Ah, me! Perhaps he will tire of the sea after a few times out. Maybe, he’ll change his mind and decide he’d rather be a weaver after all. But if not, so be it!
Farewell! I’ve got to get back to my weaving looms.
Narrator 2: Susanna is Christopher’s mother. She is, of course, the wife of Domenico. She would like to come and talk with you. Here she is.
Susanna: Thank you, boys and girls. Your letters were wonderful! You certainly made my job so much easier. I’ve been trying to tell Domenico just what you told him. But, he didn’t like to take such advice from his wife. He is a proud man.
Domenico will get over it. Christopher is so excited! He can hardly wait. He will make his first voyage in just a few days. He will sell some very fine cloth that Domenico has made. He will also sell some of our wine and cheese that we’ve made. He will bring back some wool for us to card and weave into some more beautiful cloth. Best of all, Christopher will get his first real taste of adventure. At last, he will start to live his dream.
There is peace in my family once again. Christopher is happy. Bartholomew also is happy. He knows he will not have such a fight on his hands when the time comes for him to learn to be a mapmaker. Domenico will be happy again too. It will just take a little time. Besides, their father still has our two little ones to pin some of his dreams on.
Thank you again, boys and girls. You were a very big help. I hope, when the time comes for you to go out in the world and make your way, that you will also be allowed to be whatever it is that you want to be.
By the way, I would like to hear what you modern children would like to be when you grow up. Perhaps the narrators would be willing to call the names of each boy and girl in the class. Then, when you hear your name called, tell me what job you dream of having when you are big.
Narrator 1 and Narrator 2: (Take turns calling on each child in the class. Give them time to respond.)
Susanna: My, such fine dreams all of you have. I wish you luck on getting what you want. Goodbye! I must go back to help Domenico in his weaving shop. Farewell!
Narrator 1: Bartholomew would like to talk to all of you. Here he is.
Bartholomew: Hi, kids. I’m twelve years old. Boy, you sure write a good letter. Not only did you convince my father that Chris should be allowed to try his hand at sailing, he now knows that I want to be a mapmaker. Thanks a lot!
You should see Chris right now. He is so excited that he can hardly stand it. He gets to go on his first voyage in just a few days. Lucky him! I really want to go on a ship voyage too, but not as much as he does.
Now that I’m older, I can go to the harbor anytime I’m not needed in Dad’s weaving shop. I too will listen to the stories the sailors and fishermen tell. Mostly, I go to visit the mapmakers.
Some of them are really nice. They take the time to explain to me exactly how you make a good map. They even let me try. At home, I am trying to draw a map of the Mediterranean Sea, the towns that border it, and all the islands that have been discovered on the Sea. I think it looks really good so far. It is hard work, but it is fun work too.
Well, I better get going. I have to go card some more wool for my father. If I hurry, I’ll still have time to go visit the mapmaker today. I want to see what he thinks of my map so far. See you later! Thanks again!
Narrator 2: The big day has finally arrived. Christopher Columbus is getting ready to board the ship. His family is saying goodbye.
Narrator 1: Let’s listen in on the conversation between Christopher, Bartholomew, their mother and their father.
Father: Okay, son, here we are. Do you have everything? The wine, the cheese, and the cloth?
C.C.: Yes, father. It is all already on board.
Father: Do you have some money?
C.C.: Yes, Father. I have plenty.
Mother: Christopher, you be a good boy.
C.C.: Yes, Mother, I will.
Bartholomew: Have a great time, you lucky dog, you!
C.C.: Thanks, Bart. Maybe sometime, you can come too.
Father: Well, son, we’ll see you when you get back. Have a safe journey.
Mother: Be careful, Son!
C.C.: I will. Thank you Father and Mother for letting me go. Oh, I better get going. I see they’re ready to take off. Good-bye! Good-bye!
Narrator 2: Christopher went on many such voyages for his family after that. The sailors on the ship were only too happy to teach Christopher everything that he needed to know to sail a ship. Many years passed.
Narrator 1: When Christopher turned 22 years old, he was able to become a full-time sailor. He left Genoa and became a full-fledged sailor-man.
Narrator 2: Christopher loved the sea even more than he did when he was a child. He travelled to England and to Iceland. I need a volunteer to point out Genoa, Italy, on the map. Also, find England and Iceland.
Narrator 1: The people of Europe had very different ideas about the shape of the planet Earth. Many of the people that had had little or no schooling thought that the Earth was flat. Most educated people thought that the Earth was round like an orange.
Narrator 2: They had even stranger ideas about the Atlantic Ocean. I need another volunteer to point out the Atlantic Ocean on the map.
Narrator 1: Many believed that there were giant sea dragons in the ocean. They also believed that there were no other large land masses except the one that they lived on. The same volunteer needs to cover up North, Central, and South America.
Narrator 2: The people in Columbus’ day thought that there was nothing but water where North, Central, and South America is. Wouldn’t they be surprised if they only knew that there were people living in a place who they didn’t even know existed?!
Narrator 1: Let’s listen in on the conversation of two sailors, a sea captain, and 25-year-old Christopher. Notice how each of them has very different ideas about the world.
Sailor 1: I say that the Earth is flat. You couldn’t get me to sail out very far onto that Sea of Darkness. I don’t want to chance falling off the edge of the world into space.
Sailor 2: Hey, mate, I don’t think the Earth is flat. I think it’s shaped more like an egg. I don’t think that we’ll fall off the edge of the world. The real danger is the sea dragons! Besides, even if we could sail down the side of the egg, how could we ever sail up again? No, I will just stick to sailing to the countries, towns, and islands that we know it’s safe to travel to.
Captain: Ah, men, the Earth is round like an orange, not flat like a pancake or shaped like an egg. As for falling off the edge or not being able to sail back up again, that’s just plain silly. We just have to find the right water and air currents to pull us along. Hey, Christopher, you’re being awfully quiet. What do you think?
C.C.: I too believe that the Earth is round like an orange. I also believe that Portugal is just wasting their time trying to reach India by sailing around the tip of Africa. I don’t see why they couldn’t take a shortcut to India instead.
Captain: What are you talking about? What shortcut?
C.C.: All that they would have to do is to sail west until they reach India. It wouldn’t be that far.
Sailor 1: You’re a crazy man. There is only one way to reach India. You have to go around Africa. Or, get a camel caravan and go by land. You’d fall off the edge of the world if you sail very far to the west.
Sailor 2: Look, man, even if you could make it very far, the sea dragons would come and destroy any ship that you were on. No way!
Captain: Chris! Chris! Even if there was something to what you say, you could never make it.
C.C.: Why not?
Captain: You couldn’t possibly stock enough food and water to last you all the way to India. There is far too much endless water out there.
C.C.: I’ve been studying and thinking about this for a long time. I’ve also seen maps and read many books that agree with me. I don’t believe that the Atlantic Ocean is all that wide. I know that it can be done!
Narrator 2: Raise your hand if you have heard of the word gravity. Who would like to explain what gravity is? (Wait for an answer from someone in class.)
Narrator 1: Gravity is the force that keeps things and people on the ground. Also, it makes certain that things that fall–go down instead of falling up. Webster’s Dictionary states that gravity is “the attraction of bodies toward the center of the Earth.”
Narrator 2: The people of Europe certainly knew nothing about the properties of gravity. Gravity was not discovered until 1666 by Sir Isaac Newton. He saw an apple fall. That made him realize that there must be some force on Earth that makes things fall down instead of up. He called this force gravity. That happened 174 years after Columbus made his first trip to America.
Narrator 1: Something very dangerous and exciting happened when Columbus was 25 years old. He was sailing on one of five ships that were on their way to the Netherlands. I would like a volunteer to find the Netherlands on the map. (Choose a volunteer.)
Narrator 2: Four of the ships belonged to merchant bankers of Genoa. One of the ships came from the Netherlands and was flying the flag of Burgundy. That flag was the cause of the horrible disaster that almost made Columbus lose his life.
Narrator 1: The fleet of five ships was going around the tip of Portugal. Would my same volunteer go back to the map and point out where the fleet of ships was now? (Wait for the student to point to the tip of Portugal on the map.) Also, point out the country of France. (Wait for the student to point to France on the map.)
Narrator 2: Listen to the conversation between a Pirate Captain and a Pirate Sailor of a Portuguese and French fleet of thirteen ships. Here are the two pirates now.
Pirate-Sailor: Captain! Captain! Come quick!
Pirate-Captain: What is it, Sailor?
Pirate-Sailor: Five ships off the starboard side are getting ready to round the tip of Portugal.
Pirate-Captain: Yes, I see. But why are you so excited?
Pirate-Sailor: Look at the flag of yonder ship. Isn’t that the flag of Burgundy?
Pirate-Captain: Get all the men together. Tell them to man their battle stations. We are at war! (Laugh in a mean way.)
Narrator 1: What would you do if you were Christopher Columbus? It’s almost night. A battle has been raging all day between the two fleets. Two ships from Genoa and four ships from the enemy have gone down. Hundreds of sailors have drowned. Imagine that you are Columbus. You are wounded with a bullet in your leg. The ship that you are on is on fire and it is sinking fast. What would you do? (Wait for class to respond.)
Narrator 2: What would you do now? Imagine that you are Columbus. You jumped into the water. Your ship has sunk. The other ships that have not gone down have disappeared from view. They have gone to the nearest friendly port for repairs. You can see that the nearest land is miles away. Your leg has a bullet in it. The water is so very cold. There is wreckage and dead bodies all around and under you. What would you do? (Wait for class to respond.)
Narrator 1: What would you do now? You are still Columbus. You saw a long oar floating nearby. The bullet wound in your leg is very painful. The water is very cold. You can see that land is miles away. What would you do? (Wait for class to respond.)
Narrator 2: Twenty-five-year-old Christopher Columbus swam over to the floating oar and grabbed hold of it. He pushed it ahead of him and rested on it when he was exhausted. He managed to reach shore. It took him several hours. He had to travel more than six miles.
Narrator 1: He had arrived at Lagos, Portugal. Some kindly people found Christopher and took care of him until he was better. Then Christopher left Lagos and went to Lisbon, Portugal. There he met up with his brother Bartholomew. Bartholomew was now 23.
Narrator 2: I need a volunteer to find Lagos and Lisbon on the map. They can be found in the country of Portugal. (Wait for volunteer to find these two cities on the map.)
Narrator 1: Here are Bartholomew and Christopher talking. Let’s listen.
C.C.: Bartholomew, what are you doing in Lisbon?
Bart: I couldn’t find work in Genoa. I’m a mapmaker now and have my own shop.
C.C.: Hey, Bart. That’s just great! I knew you always wanted to be a mapmaker. Your childhood dream really came true!
Bart: You, too, Chris. You’re a sailor–just like you said.
C.C.: Yeah! But I’m not famous yet. Not even close.
Bart: I know. Be patient. Besides, you couldn’t have come to a better place. Lisbon, Portugal, is the center of everything exciting that is going on. It’s right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. There are always more ships going out trying to sail around the tip of Africa to reach India or trying to discover some new islands on which they can set up colonies. This place is the greatest!
C.C.: That sounds wonderful! Besides, there’s still much that I need to learn. If I want to make my real dream come true, I have much work to do.
Bart: What is your real dream?
C.C.: I want to find the shortcut to India. I believe that if I could get hold of a fleet of ships, I could sail west on the Atlantic Ocean, go around the world, and land at India. Then, I could bring back gold, jewels, spices, and silk. That’s when I really will be famous.
Bart: Chris, why don’t you help run my mapmaking shop?
C.C.: Bart, I’ll do it. But you must understand, I will have to spend a good part of my time learning how to read and write in Portuguese, Castilian (Spanish), and Latin so that I can impress the kings and queens. Also, I need to study mathematics and astronomy so that I can learn to guide myself by the stars when I’m sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. Plus, I need to learn about shipbuilding, rigging, and discovery.
Bart: Boy, you weren’t kidding when you said you had your work cut out for you. Wow!
C.C.: I can’t wait to begin! Well, show me this shop of yours. Also, I want to hear about the family and everything that has happened to you since I saw you last.
Narrator 2: Well, that’s all for today. Tune in next time to find out more about Christopher and Bartholomew in Lisbon, Portugal.
Genie: Boys and girls, you have been a great group! I have to go now so I can get all these people home. See you next time I come. Good-bye!
THE END of the Student Role-Play
Links to Teacher Scripts and Role-Plays
* TEACHER SCRIPT: Teacher Script for Lesson 2: The Life and Times of Christopher Columbus
* STUDENT SCRIPT: Role-Play #2 of 7: The Life and Times of Christopher Columbus
* PUPPETS PART 1 to color and laminate (pp. 1 to 23)
* PUPPETS PART 2 to color and laminate (pp. 24 to 46)