Could you eat your favorite food if the Columbian exchange never happened?
This Columbian Exchange activity is a fun addition to your Age of Exploration unit. The Columbian exchange was the transfer of plants, animals, diseases, and people between the Old World and the New World. This was a result of the Age of Exploration.
Many foods (including pizza, tacos, and hamburgers) are made from both Old World and New World ingredients.
In other words, they did not exist before 1492! (Can you imagine a world without tacos?)
The following activity is a FUN way to help your students better understand the Columbian Exchange.
Columbian Exchange Lesson Plan
1. Explain the Columbian Exchange (the exchange of diseases, plants, animals, and people between the Old World and the New World in the 15th and 16th centuries). John Green’s Crash Course World History video does a great job (find that here).
2. Make a list of Old World and New World foods on the board.
Pssst if you want to take this to the next level, I’ve created a great Columbian Exchange sorting activity which you can find in my Age of Exploration unit.
3. Explain that many of the modern foods we eat are made with both Old World and New World foods.
This means, that without the exchange that happened during the Age of Exploration, they wouldn’t exist. Again, NO TACOS!!
4. Students pick their favorite meal and break it down into parts.
Example: Pizza can be broken down into crust, sauce, and toppings.
5. Then, students list the ingredients for each part
Toppings (these are the ones I like)
6. Students research where each ingredient is from. Use google to search: “Where is ____ native to” to get the best results.
Some ingredients like salt and water are found in both the New World and the Old World. You could have students exclude these ingredients.
7. Finally students sort the ingredients into two columns: Old World or New World and draw a picture of the meal in the middle.
Their finished work will look something like this:
This columbian exchange activity is so fun!
Your students may ask to do this for more than one meal! Copy a bunch of these worksheets and use them as early finisher activities.
Download the worksheet!
Want a FREE Map Lesson for teaching about European Colonization of the Americas?
In this lesson, students map the key areas of the Americas that were colonized by the English, Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Spanish and compare their locations and relative size.
The second part of the lesson is about how the political boundaries of colonies have changed over time (Did you know that Delaware was claimed by Sweden and the Netherlands before it became a British colony?). Your students will love studying these mesmerizing animated maps.
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More Age of Exploration Resources
If you need more help teaching about the Age of Exploration, check out my 2 week unit. I especially love the “Risks of Exploration Simulation” where your students experience storms, pirates, and mutiny. It’s a HUGE HIT!