Grade Level: Tenth Grade Textbook Connection

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Tenth Grade Hispanic/Latino Curriculum Lesson Plan

The Columbian Exchange

Content/Theme: Exchanges

Grade Level: Tenth Grade

Textbook Connection: World History – Patterns of Interaction. (2005) McDougal Littell

  1. Unit 4: Connecting Hemispheres

Primary Benchmark:

  1. SS.912.W.4.12: Evaluate the scope and impact of the Columbian Exchange on Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Time: Up to two class periods


  1. Students will understand effects of biological change on history and culture.

  2. Students will understand that worldwide biological change in animals, humans, and plants was one of the most significant consequences of Spanish exploration and settlement of the New World and that its effects continue to be felt throughout the world.


  1. Multicultural Content Knowledge - The Columbian Exchange

  2. Key Points of The Colombian Exchange – Teacher Notes

  3. Suggested student activities

  4. Student Handouts/Transparencies


1. Give students the reading passage as a group or independently. Give students a purpose for reading: Tell them that the Columbian exchange is a “cause” and ask them to underline each time they find an “effect” to the Colombian exchange.

2. After reading: use separate notes/transparencies cards (main ideas) with students, or have students read the passage and come up with their own main ideas in groups and share. Then compare the teacher’s main idea transparencies with the students’ main ideas.

    1. Conduct the Compare and Contrast student activity: Have students fill in a Venn Diagram with Old World contributions on the left and New World contributions on the right, and shared contributions in the middle; or the teacher may elect to have the students concentrate on the consequences or ramifications of The Columbian Exchange, instead of

contributions. The teacher may choose to fill in a few examples on the Venn Diagram on the overhead as a guided lesson.

• Conduct the cooperative learning activity
Review of Lesson and Assessment

1. Review Summary Transparency

2. Conduct practice multiple choice assessment test – Answers:

1. A 2. B 3. A 4. D

Short Answer: Students should include in their answer: disease, slave labor, plants, food, animals, and demographics (population) and include food trade examples from the reading passage.

ESOL Strategies

  1. Cooperative Groups, Use of Transparencies


Crosby, A.W. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973.

Journey to Easing Test Stress – Session 1. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, School District of Palm Beach County, 2001. 18 December 2002. “Mongoose.”


Can you imagine life today without orange juice, without milk, without bread, and without hamburgers? If you lived in Florida in 1491, you would not have had any of these foods, or many others. Florida and the United States are part of the New World, also known as The Americas (North, Central and South America and the Caribbean). In 1491, no one living in the New World had ever seen oranges, cows, or wheat. These were all products of the Old World (Europe, Africa and Asia).

The first Old World settlers in The Americas brought horses with them. The New World did not have horses before Christopher Columbus arrived. Upon returning home, the early explorers and settlers took tomatoes with them that were new to the Old World. Tomatoes were native to The Americas. If tomatoes had not been transferred to the Old World, we may never have had the popular Italian dishes of pizza and lasagna, which are both made with tomato sauce.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of The Columbian Exchange at work is the transfer of disease from the Old World to the New World. Between the late fifteenth and the late seventeenth centuries, about thirty to ninety percent of Native Americans died from diseases such as: chicken pox, malaria, measles, pneumonia, scarlet fever, smallpox, and typhus. Before the Spanish explorers came to the New World, Native Americans had none of these diseases.
People in the Old World, however, had suffered and died from these diseases for many centuries. As time went on, these diseases remained deadly in the Old World, but some people in the Old World built up a natural immunity to some or all of these diseases, having suffered and survived them in the past. Native Americans did not have this biological resistance, making these diseases far more deadly in the New World. Many Native Americans died from the exposure of these diseases. The diseases killed off and weakened Native Americans, making military and political resistance much more difficult. In order to get more workers, conquering Europeans turned to slavery.

The history and culture of both the Old World and The New World have been influenced greatly by plants and animals. Unlike disease, their introduction has been deliberate. Bread and wine were part of the Spaniards’ daily diet. Moreover, the Spaniards were Catholic and were required to take bread and wine as part of their Holy Communion. The New World did not have wheat to make bread, or grapes to make wine. The early Spanish explorers and settlers brought the seeds from Spain. Today, wheat is a staple of the American diet.

Sugar was introduced to the New World in the same way. Spaniards were also accustomed to riding horses, eating beef, goat and pork, and wearing clothes made from wool. These habits led to the importation of cows, goats, horses, pigs, and sheep. Eventually, Native-American tribes such as The Apache became formidable warriors, due to the mobility the horses gave them.
Being in the New World worked well for the Spaniards, but it also proved invaluable for other Europeans who began to prey on the Spanish trade as privateers, pirates, corsairs, and buccaneers. This meant they no longer had to get supplies from Europe. The word “buccaneer” comes from the French word “boucan,” which refers to the large wooden pits French pirates used to grill the wild cows they found on deserted islands.
The Columbian Exchange has had an equally profound influence on the Old World and indeed on the entire world. New World crops such as: beans, corn, manioc, and potatoes, grew remarkably well in the Old World. In fact, the Old World found that many of these crops grew far better than the traditional crops that had been raised for centuries by Old World farmers, because the soil proved to be better suited for the new seeds from the New World. The Old World welcomed these new crops.
The Columbian Exchange greatly increased the food supply in the Old World. An increased food supply, in turn, increased the human reproductive rate. More food meant more people survived to the reproductive age, thereby increasing the population in the Old World.
The Columbian Exchange has permanently transformed the world, making it a more homogenous place. This phenomenon influences even small details of our daily lives. No other event has had such a widespread and lasting effect on the life of humankind and on the life of this planet.


People on both sides of the Atlantic changed what they ate to a great extent. The Spaniards were Catholic brought wheat and grapes as they were needed in Communion. Sugar was introduced to The Americas in much the same way. Harvesting sugar cane was backbreaking work that required large amounts of low-wage labor (slaves) in order to produce it.

  1. The Spaniards brought horses to the New World. They had lots of food and no predators. The horse population increased.

The pig is another animal that was brought over. Since pigs reproduced quickly and were very mobile, they were an important source of food.

Demographic Change:

The world’s population today is larger and more resistant to disease because of The Columbian Exchange. Ireland is one example of how dramatically. The potato was a new crop for Ireland in the eighteenth century and grew well there. In 1846, the potato blight struck and greatly reduced the available food, forcing many more Irishmen to emigrate. Poor and starving Irishmen provided cheap labor for major construction projects and contributed to the growth of cities like Boston and New York.

Slave Labor

The Spaniards had a large demand for forced labor. Overwork also contributed to the many deaths of Native Americans.

  1. The Spaniards began importing slaves from Africa to replace the loss of indigenous forced labor. This is why Latin American culture has such a strong African component, as well as European, indigenous and mestizo (mixed) components.

  1. Sugar became a major crop in the New World. The sugar crop created a huge demand for slave labor.


30 to 90 percent of the indigenous population of the New World perished from Old World diseases.

The indigenous people of the New World were extremely susceptible to Old World diseases because they had lived apart from the rest of the world for thousands of years. Consequently, they had not developed natural defenses to these diseases
Columbian Exchange Impact

Reading Questions

  • 1. What were the negatives of the Columbian Exchange?

  • 2. What are the positives of the Columbian Exchange?

  • 3. Your Opinion: How has the Columbian Exchange affected your eating habits? Explain.

  • 4. Your Opinion: If you could give the Columbian Exchange a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F. What grade would you give it? Why?

Group Activity:

  1. 1. Select a group leader who will take notes on the group’s discussion.

  2. 2. Have group leader read the following excerpt aloud to the group.

  3. 3. Discuss the readings and answer questions.

  4. 4. Present the group’s answers and conclusions to the rest of the class.

This is your first trip to the recently discovered planet Columex. You are part of a mission to found a settlement there. You have heard from other people who have returned from Columex that the planet is beautiful and that other people live there, although you do not know how they got there. You also know that Columex has none of your favorite foods. The people there eat plants and animals that you have never seen or even heard of before.

Discuss among your group what plants you will take to Columex to try to grow there. Next, discuss what animals you will take to Columex to try to breed there. You only have supplies to last you six weeks. It will be at least a year until you have your first harvest, so you will have to get used to eating what the people of Columex eat. What kind of foods are you willing to try? What kinds of foods do you find unacceptable? When considering these food decisions, keep in mind the appearance, smell, taste, and texture of foods.

Being the new people on Columex may cause some difficulty with the indigenous people. They have their ways of doing things and your group has your ways of doing things. What is your group willing to do in an effort to get along with the indigenous people?”

Post-Group Discussion

1. What were the consequences of the Columbian Exchange?

2. How has the Columbian exchange affected your eating habits?


  1. Consumption - the Spaniards and other early European settlers imported millions of African slaves to the New World. The sugar demand started quickly after Columbus arrived in the New World. Today, sugar is a major industry in Florida. We can credit this to The Columbian Exchange.

  1. Just as the Old Word crops changed the New World, New World crops changed the Old World. The potato is a crop that was native to The Americas. The early settlers introduced the potato to the Old World. Ireland’s population, for example, grew rapidly, due to the introduction of the potato. In one hundred years, Ireland’s population boomed from 3.2 million to 8.2 million. Crops new to the Old World, in general, resulted in increasing the food supply, thereby increasing the human reproductive rate.



  1. Kudzu is a modern day example of vegetation that has been imported from one place to another. Kudzu originated in Asia. It has been transported across continents and is now everywhere. One could call it truly global. This plant is not a popular one because it smothers other foliage and is quite prolific. It is proving to be very destructive.

  1. Today, customs officials at U.S. airports, cruise ship lines, and shipping lines will not allow travelers to bring in fresh fruits, seeds or vegetables. This is to avoid the type of dramatic and sometimes catastrophic change that has occurred in the past.



Directions: Read each question carefully. Select the best answer for each question.

1. What is The Columbian Exchange?

A. The two-way transfer of plants, animals and microbes between the Old and New Worlds.

B. A traditional form of gift giving in Colombia.

C. A new route to Asia discovered by Columbus.

D. The passage taken back and forth by the first inhabitants of the New World.

2. What is the primary reason so many native peoples of the New World died after 1492?

A. They were disgusted with the arrival of the Europeans.

B. They lacked resistance to Old World diseases.

C. They were intentionally killed by the Spaniards.

D. They died from diseased plants.
3. Which of the following is a direct consequence of the decreased Native American population:

A. The Europeans brought African slaves to the New World.

B. There were less goods produced for trade.

C. The Spaniards were able to grow grapes so successfully.

D. There was an increased population of mixed raced children.
4. Which is a consequence of New World crops introduced to the Old World?

A. The European population continued to grow.

B. The European crops were infested with disease.

C. The horse was transported to Europe.

D. The tomato was transported to Europe.

By using details in the passage, explain how the Columbian exchange continues to affect the world.

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