As part of Appendix A, this is the seventh and last 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 Seven of the Seven-Part Program
Genie: Hello, boys and girls. Today marks our last time together to visit with Christopher Columbus. Nevertheless, we will have a wide variety of visitors coming today. Who remembers how to work the magic?
Good. Let’s all do it together. All of you should cross your legs and fingers as you touch the magic jewel in my crown and say “Christopher Columbus” as fast as you can.
Keep those fingers and legs crossed as you point to the magic jewel in my crown and say his name three times.
All: Christopher Columbus! Christopher Columbus! Christopher Columbus!
Genie: Hooray! We did it! Here’s Christopher Columbus.
C.C.: Hi, boys and girls. It’s so good to see you again. I have just come back from my fourth voyage to India. I have to stay in bed some days because my arthritis is so bad. I was hoping that I could go back on one more voyage; although, I must admit, I am probably too old to go back again. I heard that the queen died. That is most grievous news! She was my main support at court. I have the feeling that without her around, the king will not have much patience to talk or listen to me.
I better get going now. I have to go write a letter to the king to see if he will be willing to let me come to court to talk with him. I know that Story Genie has several visitors she wants to bring in to talk with you. Good-bye. I’m so glad that I got a chance to visit with you modern children. I hope you all have a good life. I hope that all of your dreams come true!
Genie: I have many visitors to bring in to talk with you. I’ll need: 2 Narrators, Christopher Columbus, Diego, Ferdinand, Leif Erikson, and an Indian.
Script for Lesson Seven on the life and times of Christopher Columbus
Genie: I have many visitors to bring in to talk with you. I’ll need: 2 Narrators, Christopher Columbus, Diego, Ferdinand, Leif Erikson, and an Indian.
Narrator 1: Christopher Columbus returned to Spain on November 7, 1504. That was twelve years after he landed on America for the very first time. He had gone on four voyages to America.
Narrator 2: Of course, Christopher Columbus never knew that he had found a new continent. He still thought that he had sailed to the countries of India and China and that he had seen Japan from a distance.
Narrator 1: Some people began to suspect that those lands were not really India, China, and Japan. But Columbus would not listen to them. He refused to change any of the maps that he made.
Narrator 2: Listen to Columbus now.
C.C.: I know that I have discovered the shortcut to India, China, and Japan. That is what God put me on this earth to do. And I did it!
Now, some people try to say that I did not go to those countries at all. They try to tell me that instead I have found a new land. I know that they are wrong, and I am right. They want me to change my maps. Of course, I refused! My maps are perfect!
Narrator 1: The queen died on November 26, 1504. This was about 19 days after Columbus got home from his fourth voyage. He was too stiff from arthritis to go to her funeral. Columbus was grief-stricken for two reasons.
Narrator 2: His good friend the queen was dead. If it hadn’t been for the queen’s support, Columbus would probably never been given the ships to go on even his first voyage. She had been a very good friend to Christopher Columbus, and he would miss her.
Narrator 1: The second reason that Christopher Columbus was grief-stricken was that he didn’t feel like the king was being fair to him. He did not feel like he was getting everything that was promised to him. Here’s Christopher again.
C.C.: I feel as if the king is treating me very unfairly. I still hold the titles of Admiral of the Ocean Sea, but they don’t give me ships on which to sail. I still hold the title of being governor of the lands that I discovered, but they have another man being a governor in my place. They promised that I would get ten percent of all gold found, but they have not given me everything that they owe me. I am going to try to get an audience with King Ferdinand as soon as I can. I wish Queen Isabella were still alive!
Narrator 2: In May of 1505, Columbus did go to the court to talk with King Ferdinand. The king was friendly but said that Columbus should talk to another man who said that Columbus should talk to some lawyers. Finally, Columbus realized that they were not going to listen to him or help him. Columbus decided to just turn the matter over to the good God.
Narrator 1: In October of 1505, Columbus met with King Ferdinand for the last time. The king tried to buy him off and suggested that he be content to be given a few honors in Spain instead of being called a Don of the Indies. Columbus refused! He wanted everything that he had been promised.
Narrator 2: He didn’t just want this for himself. He wanted it for his brothers and his own sons and for any children that his brothers and Diego and Ferdinand might have. He was very concerned for his family.
Narrator 1: In April of 1506, Columbus followed the court to another city. He was too ill to go to the court himself, but he sent his brother Bartholomew to go in his place. But it didn’t do any good.
Narrator 2: The one thing that the king did agree on was that his first son Diego could become Governor of Hispaniola in Columbus’s place in a few years.
Narrator 1: On May 20, 1506, Christopher Columbus died. Columbus was 55 years old.
Narrator 2: Bartholomew was away trying to get another audience with the king. There were a few loyal friends and family members gathered around Columbus’s bedside.
Narrator 1: Columbus’s youngest brother named Diego was there.
Narrator 2: Columbus’s first son named Diego was there.
Narrator 1: Columbus’s youngest son named Ferdinand was there.
Narrator 2: Diego Mendez, the brave man who rowed the canoe to Hispaniola to get help was there.
Narrator 1: Another loyal captain of a ship was there.
Narrator 2: And finally a few faithful servants were there.
Narrator 1: A priest was called to perform the last sacrament. Columbus’s last words were the same last words said by Jesus Christ: “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”
Narrator 2: He had a modest funeral that very few people attended.
Narrator 1: It was not until years later that people began to realize what a great thing it was that Columbus did. Years later, this new land did bring great wealth to Spain and only then was Columbus honored as a very great man.
Narrator 2: Seven years after Columbus died, in 1513, Balboa crossed Panama and reached the Pacific Ocean. He did this for Spain.
Narrator 1: In 1520, Magellan rounded the tip of South America and found the waterway that Columbus had been searching for. Magellan died, but one out of his five ships made it all the way around the world. They arrived back in Spain in 1522. This was 30 years after Columbus first landed in America.
Narrator 2: All the people in Europe began to realize that the world was much larger than they ever had imagined. Columbus believed that it was just 3000 miles from the Canary Islands to Japan. It was really about 10,000 miles.
Narrator 1: You might wonder how our country got the name of America. There was a friend of Columbus by the name of Amerigo Vespucci. He travelled to America during the time of Columbus’s third voyage before Columbus was sent home in chains.
Narrator 2: Amerigo Vespucci did some exploring and founded some new islands. He wrote a book of his travels. The date that was written in his book was wrong. The printed version of the book said that Amerigo Vespucci had travelled to this New World in 1490 which was two years before Columbus went to our country for the first time.
Narrator 1: Nobody knows whether Amerigo Vespucci wrote the date wrong on purpose or whether it was a misprint on the book printer’s part. But a later historian read the book. Because of that date, he thought that Amerigo Vespucci must have reached the New World first. So he wrote down the name America on the map he was drawing.
Narrator 2: Many years later, he realized that he had made a mistake, but it was too late. Everyone kept on calling the New World-America.
Narrator 1: You might be wondering what happened in the lives of some of the people that Columbus loved.
Narrator 2: Columbus did mention Beatrice in his will. He wanted to be certain that she was provided for. There was no other information that could be found about her.
Narrator 1: Columbus’s first son Diego was made a page at the Spanish court when he was twelve. Until the prince died, Diego served as his page. Then Diego became a page to Queen Isabella of Spain. When he became too old to be a page, he became one of the queen’s bodyguards. The queen died when Diego was 24 years old. The king was so well pleased with him that Diego became one of King Ferdinand’s bodyguards.
Narrator 2: When Diego was 25, the king said that Diego could become governor of Hispaniola, be granted viceroyalty, and be called Don Diego after Columbus died. He actually kept his promise three years after the death of Columbus in 1509. Diego was now Don Diego. He became known as the second Admiral of the Indies. He married a cousin of the king by the name of Dona Maria de Toledo.
Narrator 1: Diego will talk now.
Diego: My father died in 1506. I miss him very much. In 1509, two important things happened. I married that lady I love. Her name is Dona Maria de Toledo. She is the cousin of the king. Also, the king appointed me to be governor of Hispaniola and to be called Don Diego. They even called me the second Admiral of the Indies. I know my father would be very proud of me.
I stayed in Hispaniola for a few years and proved that I was a good governor. I also built a stone castle at the island of Santo Domingo.
My wife and I had a baby boy named Don Luis.
I am going back to Spain now to try to get all the rights that were promised to my father. I owe it to my father to try and do this for him, myself, and for my son.
Narrator 2: Diego died in 1526. His wife took over the titles for her infant son Don Luis. It turned out that when Don Luis was grown, he was completely worthless. So she wisely traded all the honors that should have stayed in the Columbus family in exchange for becoming a Duchess in Spain.
Narrator 1: Columbus’s second son Ferdinand will tell what happened in his life now.
Ferdinand: My father went off to India for the first time when I was four years old. I stayed with my mother, Beatrice. When I got to be about eight years old, I got to go live in the palace and become a page to the Crown Prince. My half-brother Diego and I were both pages. I remember when our father came home from his second voyage. People would make fun of our father and make fun of us. “There goes the Admiral of the Mosquitoes and there goes the sons of the Admiral of the Mosquitoes.” It was a very hard time for all of us!
When I was twelve years old, I got to go on the fourth voyage with my father. I was so excited. There were a lot of teenage boys on that last voyage. I won’t tell you about all the adventures we had as you have already heard about them.
My father died when I was eighteen years old. He died a disappointed man. He couldn’t understand why he never found the golden palaces or met the Great Khan. He also was very bitter because the king was not keeping very many of the promises that he had made. I plan to write a book about his life.
Narrator 2: That is about all that is known about Ferdinand. It is not known when he or his mother died.
Narrator 1: Columbus’s brother Bartholomew did not make it back from France and England in time to go on the first voyage with Christopher. But the king and queen of Spain sent him over with three ships when Columbus was on his second voyage.
Narrator 2: Bartholomew was sent home in chains along with Columbus and their youngest brother Diego at the end of the3rd voyage. Their youngest brother Diego went into the priesthood after that. Bartholomew went on the fourth voyage also. It is not known when he died.
Narrator 2: What happened to Christopher’s mother, father, sister, and other brother?
Narrator 1: Giovanni, the third youngest son after Bartholomew, died when he was a young man.
Narrator 2: Bianchinetta married a cheesemonger.
Narrator 1: Christopher’s mother, Susanna died sometime between 1474 and 1483. Christopher’s father, Domingo died sometime between 1494 and 1498.
Narrator 2: Now, it is time to decide the big question. WHO REALLY DISCOVERED AMERICA???
Narrator 1: First, we will hear from Christopher Columbus.
C.C.: I discovered America. I realize that I thought that I had found India; but later, people realized that it was a New World that I had found. Without me, people would still have thought that there really was a Sea of Darkness and sea dragons. They would have still thought that a ship could fall off the edge of the Earth into space. Some people still would have believed that the Earth was flat like a pancake. I proved that the Earth was really round like an orange. I made Spain rich and famous.
Narrator 2: We shall now hear from Leif Erikson.
Leif: Hey, wait a minute, old man. I believe that I reached America first. Five hundred years before Christopher Columbus was even born and more than 1000 years before you modern children were born, I travelled from Scandinavia to a land that I called Vineland or Vinland. We called it that because we saw thousands of grape vines everywhere we looked. That Vinland was in the country that you modern children call North America. So, I believe, that everyone would have to agree that I discovered America.
Narrator 1: Christopher wants to speak again.
C.C.: Okay, perhaps you went to the New World 500 years before I did. But, what did you do with that information? Nothing but tell stories about it around a campfire. You never went back again. You never explored the area. You never did much of anything with your discovery. Therefore, I still claim that I deserve most of the credit for discovering America.
Narrator 2: An Indian would like to speak now. Luckily, he will not have to use sign language as he can speak English. He is one of the American Indians.
Indian: I believe that we Indians discovered America. My father said that his grandfather said that his grandfather said that his grandfather said and many more grandfathers than that on back for many generations, that the Indians came over from the area that you call Asia. At that time, there was a strip of land that connected Asia and Africa that you modern people call the Bering Strait. My ancestors crossed that land and came to America.
That Bering Strait is now under water, but it was not always that way. My people spread out throughout Canada, the United States, Central America, and South America. We became the peoples of many different tribes. I do not see how either Leif Erikson or Christopher Columbus can say that either of them discovered America as we, the Indians, arrived and lived in America first.
Narrator 1: What do you say? Who do you believe really discovered America?
Narrator 2: We will turn this session over to Story Genie and to you to decide this issue for yourselves. Good-bye!
Genie: Okay, let’s talk. Who do you think really discovered America?
If Columbus didn’t really discover America, then what do you think was his big contribution to the world?
What qualities or characteristics did Columbus have?
What were some good things about Columbus?
What were some bad things about Columbus?
What can we learn from the life of Christopher Columbus?
Is there anything that he did that would be useful for people to know?
What’s so great about Christopher Columbus?
Are there some dreams that you have that you would like to accomplish in your life that might make the world a better place to live?
Is there anything else that you would like to ask or say about Christopher Columbus?
Boys and girls, it has been a great pleasure to work with you these last few weeks. You have been absolutely terrific! Good-bye and good luck!
THE END of Entire Unit on Columbus
Links to Teacher Scripts and Role-Plays
* TEACHER SCRIPT: Teacher Script for Lesson 7: The Life and Times of Christopher Columbus
* STUDENT SCRIPT: Role-Play #7 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)