Did you ever wonder what the big deal was with the spice trade business? What was so great about the spices that many of us have in our cabinets and probably take for granted? This activity encourages exploration and inquiry. It involves laying out different spices that were in demand around Columbus's time and having students use the fun facts, taste, and smell to match each spice to its appropriate box. I developed it for a homeschool setting, but adapted it for use in a traditional classroom by adding follow-up questions and a polling graph, so it is suitable for either!
I suggest laying out spices on small plates for students to discover. I left a plate of spices on the table and my students completed the activity on their own because they were so compelled!
I also included small graters and encouraged them to crush or grate whole spices. We also discussed plant anatomy and figured out which part of the plant each spice was from. If you have younger children doing this activity, I would suggest sandpaper strips instead of graters.
I hope you enjoy this activity as much as we did!
Though I do believe this is suitable for all ages, If you are looking for further activities related to Christopher Columbus and the spice trade for older students, please see my expanded spice exploration package.
The free version for Elementary students has 5 common spices. The paid version has follow-up questions, a polling graph, and is more decorative. The advanced version contains all of the above, 15 total spices, AND related activities.
This activity correlates with material used in Classical Conversations, cycle 3.