Social Studies Freebies and Ideas- The Columbian Exchange

I don’t know about you, but my FAVORITE subject to teach is social studies. Something about the Revolutionary War and Colonization makes this girl sing!

One of the big topics we cover in 5th grade is the Columbian Exchange. Per usual, our textbooks provide us with literally one sentence on this massive event. So, over the years I have found some pretty phenomenal resources that I want to share with you today!

My absolute favorite resource is a freebie from the website Guest Hollow. Click HERE to go directly to the four page PDF:

It’s such a simple and fun activity. The students cut out each individual square:
Use the chart to decide where the product/crop/animal originated from, then students glue the squares onto a world map. Super easy, hands on and it drives the topic home.

Great for my hands on/visual learners!

Some other things I have used to teach the Columbian Exchange are:

BRAINPOP! My favorite video website for obvious reasons. Our school has a subscription, but you can sign up for a free trial to check out all the features. Click HERE to check out the resources on the Columbian Exchange.

Last but not least, I love to use PowerPoints when teaching social studies simply for the visual aspect they provide. If the content is boring and dry, you show them a battle scene from the French and Indian War, and they are HOOKED!
Click HERE to grab the PowerPoint I used below with my class to teach The Columbian Exchange: 
Click the images below to find a few more examples that are a bit higher level:
I love to cut and paste different slides to make my own. Unfortunately, I want to pay credit where credit is due. If you happen to know where these PowerPoints originate, PLEASE let me know. They are too awesome to not pay credit to the owners!
Have a great day!


  1. We JUST had our Spanish explorers test today, but I will file this away for next year. I can’t wait to see what you have on tap for colonization and the revolution!

    Fifth in the Middle

    1. I know, I am a bit late with this for most! Isn’t it so crazy how we all teach such a range of concepts for social studies at all different times?I hope I’ve got more ideas for you too! Thanks for your comment! :)

  2. Wooooooooooooow!! We teach the American Revolution and Westward Expansion n 4th. The Revolution is my favorite, and I think I would like Westward expansion, except I’m usually in a rush to get it all in before testing. :O(

    We are looking for some good books to order for Westward expansion as an integration with language arts…if you think of any off the top of your head, I would be soooooo grateful (I need to check your blog)! I use Dandelions by Eve Bunting but other than that…last year was my first year in 4th so I haven’t gotten so used to it. :O)

    I love your blog!
    Collaboration Cuties

  3. @Collaboration Cuties-
    Not sure why it doesn’t appear under everyone’s comments when I reply!?! Thank you SO much for your sweet comments! I love when my school asks me to purchase books for things like science and social studies! It is a blast finding good ones out there. Here are some ideas for Westward Expansion:
    Daily Life in a Covered Wagon By: Paul Erickson
    Lewis and Clark and Me (A Dog’s Tale) By: Michael Dooling
    Boom Town By: Sonia Levitan
    Patty Reed’s Doll By: Rachel Laurgaard
    By The Great Horn Spoon By: Sid Fleischman

    These are just a few goodies that are out there! Good luck with that shopping spree! ;)

  4. We teach Revolution in 4th here and I am with you- I loooooove it! :)
    ideas by jivey

  5. Thanks so much for the freebies! I plan to use them next week!

  6. Hi! I was so excited to see your powerpoint and I can’t get the google doc link to load. Any chance you’d be willing to share it a different way?

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      Hi Mary- I just checked the links, and they work. Maybe try using a different browser. If that still doesn’t work, send me an email at Thanks!

  7. God Bless you for sharing!!

  8. Dawn Filson says:

    Thank you for sharing this. This is exactly the kind of activity I was looking for. I have a feeling my class will be very surprised that tomatoes came from America ( a few had pizza in their Roman stories recently!). Thanks again.
    Dawn (year 4, UK)

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Dawn! I hope your students enjoy!

  9. Is it possible for you to upload that Columbian Exchange PDF? Looks like Guest Hollow got rid of it!

  10. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information that I will use in my lesson on Columbian Exchange.

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      Thank you! So glad these resources will help you!

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