This is a wonderful cross curriculum adventure integrating social studies, language arts, writing, art and drama.
First, your students are assessed on their knowledge of common nouns (or whatever you want to track). This allows you to track their progress and monitor their growth. You can individualize this part and use your own pre-assessment of something else you may be teaching.
Next, they read a truly inspiring story about how one becomes big enough to really get their dreams.
Then they make a replica of one or more of Columbus' ships out of paper or Popsicle sticks. (instruction links included)
Finally, they write and act out a skit based on the story using common nouns or whatever aspect of language arts you may be working on.
This integrated project can be used week after week and addresses Common core standards and Marzano elements (learning goal and scale).
Most importantly, it provides the opportunity for you to stretch your students' minds academically through activities that are so much fun they will remain in the hearts and minds of your students for a long, long time.
Thank you and I hope you really enjoy teaching this lesson as much as I did.
Adam and the School of Athens ~ Mind Adventures