Today's Snack: Let's make Potato Boats!
Wash a baking potato, poke several times with a fork, and microwave for 9 or 10
minutes on high power, turning over at the halfway mark.
Let cool slightly.
Carefully cut the halves apart and scoop the potato "pulp" into a bowl.
Stir in your
favorite additions: a tiny bit of butter, a splash of milk, shredded cheddar,
chopped broccoli, chopped green onion, a few shakes of bacon bits.
Load it back into
the potato "boats" and re-heat in the microwave for about a minute on high.
You can make
"sails" for these mini-boats out of toothpicks and paper to resemble the boats
in which Christopher Columbus sailed, but it might be more fun to just eat and
enjoy them -- "sink" them into your tummy!
3 sheets of typing
Tub full of water
Here's a fun way to mark Columbus
Day and think about what it must have been like to be the person who discovered
America. Let's make three little boats out of paper and float them, like the Niña,
the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Those were the three small boats that carried Spanish
navigator Christopher Columbus and his crew across the Atlantic Ocean to make
Of course they were made out of
wood, not paper. But you can pretend to be Columbus on a small scale. Follow
these instructions for folding your boats, and while you float them and play
with them, you can learn and discuss more about the courageous Christopher
Columbus, one of the most famous explorers ever:
Use a search engine to find out more facts about Christopher
Columbus. Here are some to get you started:
n He was born in 1451
and died in 1506, in Spain.
n His father was a
wool weaver, cheese stand owner, and tavern owner.
n Despite those
humble beginnings, the navigational skill of Columbus ended up putting more
land under the sovereignty of Spain than in all of Africa and Europe combined.
n The boats were relatively
small and were named the Niña (Spanish for "girl" - note the double- pronunciation
of the second "n" as marked with the little curving symbol above it), the Pinta
("The Painted One"), and the Santa-Maria (St. Mary, the mother of Jesus).
n King Ferdinand and
Queen Isabella of Spain paid for his voyage and three later ones, so they got
to own all the lands that he discovered and paid him a sort of commission that
made him fairly rich in later life.
n Columbus was
actually trying to find a shorter way to China and India so that Spain could
compete for the spice trade against the Arabs and Italians, who were closer to
China and India. He thought the Earth was much smaller. Instead of making it to
East Asia, he landed in the Caribbean. Ironically, he thought he had discovered
the eastern shore of India, and that's why he called the native people
"Indians." Of course, the wealth that his discovery eventually brought back to
Spain far exceeded any spice trade advantages, so his discovery was a huge boon
to the Spanish.
n He wasn't actually
the first European in the Americas. That honor goes to Leif Ericson, a
Norseman, who got there 500 years before Columbus. However, Columbus was the
first one to stay and open up communication and trade between Europe and the
Americas, so his voyage and discovery are considered very important.
n The winds in the
southern Atlantic blow toward the west, so Columbus's journey there took only
36 days of sailing in the open ocean. If he had tried to go back the same way,
it would have taken him many months, probably longer than the food and water
supplies would have lasted. Fortunately, Columbus understood that the winds in
the Atlantic blow in a circular pattern, clockwise. So he sailed north first,
then back east toward Europe, and got home in fine shape.
n Columbus has since
been criticized for putting some of the native people into slavery. But it must
be noted that at that time, most everyone all over the world thought slavery
was OK. So Columbus was in the mainstream of the culture at the time.
Ironically, the natives themselves were familiar with slavery, because they
took slaves from other tribes.
n He also has been
criticized for taking native gold and crops back to Spain. But Columbus traded
items brought from Europe for those items from the natives. Nothing was forced.
And the natives were happy with the trades, so it was fair.
n In recent years,
some have criticized Columbus for spreading European diseases among the native
people. In his defense, most of the natives who died were felled by diseases
that the Europeans brought by accident. The Caribbean natives didn't have
immunities in their bodies because those diseases were previously unknown, so
they were extra vulnerable. But nobody knew that. Ironically, it is believed
that Columbus' men brought the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis back to
Europe from the Americas, taking many European lives as a result, since that
disease was new to Europe.
n It has been
suggested in recent years that Columbus exploited the peaceful, innocent
natives, but history shows that they were constantly at war with one another,
had no concept of private property, had no written laws, had no books or
permanent homes, nomadic, promiscuous, and were not to the level of civilization
that Europe had gained centuries before.
n Columbus said that
his main purpose for going to the New World was to convert any people he found
there to Christianity. Evidence of this is found in the name he gave to the
ship, the Santa-Maria (St. Mary, the mother of Jesus), and the two places he
landed: San Salvador (His Salvation) and Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ),
along with the popular Christian men's organization, the Knights of Columbus.
n The influence of
Columbus lives on even in 21st Century America. Note that our nation's
capital, The District of Columbia, is named for him. The capital of Ohio,
Columbus, is another legacy, as is the capital of South Carolina, Columbia. Any
time you see the term "pre-Columbian," especially with regard to art, it refers
to the time before Columbus ventured to the New World in 1492.