Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids – 5 Courageous Facts about Christopher Columbus

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Let’s dive in five courageous facts about Christopher Columbus, who spend lots of his time having amazing adventures on ships!

Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids Fact Number 1: He Wasn’t The First Non-native to Travel to America

Christopher Columbus is best known for his exploration of America but he wasn’t the first European to arrive there. The Viking Leif Erikson landed in present-day Newfoundland around 1000 A.D., that means he arrived in America almost five centuries before Columbus set sail. Columbus arrived in America in 1492 while trying to travel to Asia.

Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids Fact Number 2: Christopher Columbus Wasn’t Spanish

Christopher Columbus’ famous journey to America was commissioned by the King and Queen of Spain but Columbus wasn’t Spanish. Historians believe that Columbus was born in Italy or Portugal but records no longer exist so it is a mystery. Columbus offered to try and find a faster route to Asia for the government of Portugal, England, and France but they said no. The Spanish eventually commissioned him to take the journey. If Columbus could find a faster route to Asia it would mean the Spanish could trade better with Asia where there were goods not made in Europe such as silk.

Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids Fact Number 3: On His Travels Christopher Columbus Witnessed Ball Lightning

One of the interesting things written in Columbus’ diary during his journey to America was a description of lights on the horizon before they saw land. The night before they landed in America Columbus saw what looked like candles on the horizon but it was not lights that were lit on land. Scientists believe Columbus may have seen ball lightning which is a very rare weather phenomenon. Ball lightning is so rare that scientists aren’t sure what makes it form.

Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids

Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids Fact Number 4: Columbus Miscalculated How Long His Journey around The World Would Be

During Columbus’ time humans had no way to accurately measure the circumference of the Earth. When Columbus was planning his trip around the world to Asia he had to estimate how far the journey would be. Unfortunately for Columbus he miscalculated the distance he would have to travel to reach Asia. His maths made him think that the circumference of the Earth was 25% smaller than it actually was. He was lucky to reach land in America as he would have had to turn back for more supplies if he hadn’t. When he reached America he thought America was India and wrongly called the indigenous people ‘Indians’.

Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids Fact Number 5: Columbus Day Is also Celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day

Some people see Columbus as a hero as he was a revered explorer but it is important that we remember he also did bad things while he was in America. Columbus mistreated the native people who called America their home before he arrived and tried to change their culture. This is why on Columbus Day people choose to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day to remember the people who first called America home.

Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids
Photo of two native Americans playing woodwind instruments

We hope you enjoyed learning more things about Christopher Columbus as much as we loved teaching you about them. Now that you know how majestic this person is, you can move on to learn about famous people like: Henry VIII and Barack Obama.

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