Pilgrims Lesson for Kids
This is the third lesson in a series of 28 hands-on lessons covering American History through 1865. This lesson focuses on the Pilgrims. Children will learn about the Pilgrims and Squanto, plant corn, eat popcorn & turkey, and create a Thanksgiving notebook page. I used this plan while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, after-school program, or co-op!
What comes to your mind first when you think of the Pilgrims?
Weekly Biography Report & Presentation: Squanto
1. Squanto Biography Report: Each week a child will do a 2-3 minute presentation on someone we’re learning about that week. This week we will be hearing about Squanto.
Review of Last Week & Mayflower Trip
2. Review: When Columbus and his crew sailed to America in 1492, who was already living in America? (American Indians/Native Americans) Eventually more people wanted to come to this New World of America. England started sending over people to live here in places they called colonies. What was England's first successful colony? (Jamestown) When you hear Jamestown, which 2 people should you remember? (Pocahontas & John Smith) Who can tell me something else about John Smith? (Answers will vary) Who can tell me something about Pocahontas? (Answers will vary)
3. Today we're going to learn about the Pilgrims. Does anyone know the name of the ship they sailed on to come to America? (Mayflower). We’re going to all squeeze together like the Pilgrims did in the hull of the Mayflower. Squeeze together in this corner. (Make sure the children are squished in.)
4. Read Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness about Pilgrims and Mayflower voyage.
YOU WILL NEED:
- Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness or other book on the Pilgrims
5. After reading, ask the children how they enjoyed sitting all cooped up. This is what the Pilgrims experienced for months at sea among feeling seasick and having to smell other people who had gotten sea sick.
We read so many wonderful books on the Pilgrims, and this was our overall favorite. This shares the historically accurate account of the Allerton family as they traveled to America on the Mayflower. It has beautiful illustrations and just the right amount of text to keep the attention of even younger listeners.
Squanto & Corn
6. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in America, set up in what is now Virginia, in 1607. The Separatists (who we now call the Pilgrims) set up the second permanent English settlement in America in 1621 in what is today Massachusetts. They had a really difficult time, didn't they? Who can tell me something you remember from the book about one of the difficulties the Pilgrims had.
7. Today [child's name who did the report] told us all about a Native American named Squanto. When you think of the Pilgrims, I want you to remember Squanto. Quickly summarize his life as you flip through the pictures in the book Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. Three main facts to know about Squanto include: 1) When he was a boy, he'd been kidnapped and taken to Europe. 2) While there, he became a Christian and learned English, so he was able to help the Pilgrims after they arrived in America. 3) He might have taught the Pilgrims how to plant maize, which is like corn.
YOU WILL NEED:
- Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas or other book on Squanto
This shares the factual account of Squanto and God's mighty power and grace. It shows how God used even the bad events in Squanto's life for his good and for the good of the Pilgrims -- just like Joseph of the Bible. The illustrations are beautiful and the book is short enough so a very young reader will not lose interest. I love this book so much that I bought a copy and have given it as a gift to others. I read it with my family every single year around Thanksgiving time.
8. Plant corn. Add a paper towel, 1-3 corn kernels, and enough water to make the paper towel moist. Close the baggie. You can tell parents they can transfer the corn kernel to potting soil when they get home or after it has begun to sprout.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD:
- Sandwich bag
- Paper towel
- 1-3 corn kernels from seed packet (or popcorn kernels, which is what we used)
9. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The Pilgrims wanted to thank God for both the difficult times they had the first year and to praise God for his blessings upon them the second year. What do you like to eat on Thanksgiving? (Allow children to answer.) What did they eat at the first Thanksgiving? The Wampanoag brought deer. The Pilgrims killed some fowl, probably turkeys. They each got a bit of cornmeal. We're not sure exactly what else they ate. Let’s eat some popcorn to remind us of that corn which Squanto had helped them plant and some turkey.
YOU WILL NEED:
- Popped pop corn
- Deli turkey slices
- Napkins, bowls, or cups for serving
Notebook Page & Review
10. Pass out a map of the United States. Have children color in Massachusetts, which is where the Pilgrims settled. Also point out Virginia, the site of Jamestown colony.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD:
- a map of America printed from the States (Unlabeled) map at this site punched with 3 hole punch
- children's class supplies: scissors
11. Pass out the lapbook page showing a Native American and a Pilgrim from the below link. Have children cut out the rectangle, fold over the sides, and glue it to the back of the U.S. Map. Ask who they think the Native American might be. (maybe Squanto) As they color the 2 pictures, walk around the room and allow the children to each dictate to you something they learned about the Pilgrims and/or the first Thanksgiving. Write it inside their booklet. If children are older, they can do that themselves or can draw in a picture.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD:
- page 2 from this Cranberry Thanksgiving Lapbook
- children's class supplies: scissors, glue sticks, & crayons
12. Review: Which group of people did we learn about today? (Separatists or Pilgrims) What's the name of they ship they sailed on? (Mayflower) Who helped them? (Squanto) Name something you learned about Squanto. (Answers will vary but someone should mention helping them learn to plant corn) What food do we know they ate at their first Thanksgiving meal? (deer, fowl/turkey, corn meal)
13. Assign next week's biography presentation: William Penn.
A Picture Book to Read Each Day
We read through huge stacks of books and these were our favorite (in addition to the 2 used in the lesson): Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (The Time-Traveling Twins) by Diane Stanley, You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower!: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long by Peter Cook, The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving (Graphic History) by Mary Englar (and also look for The Mayflower from the same Graphic History series), On The Mayflower by Kate Waters, Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters, Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters, and Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters.
Optional Homework: Memorize a History Sentence Song About the Pilgrims
Nest Entertainment: Our Favorite Video on William Bradford for Younger Children
Looking for all of my American History Lessons?
(My middle school level
American History lessons can be found at https://hubpages.com/education/TeachingAmHistory .)
Native Americans & Columbus Lesson
Thirteen Colonies Lesson
French and Indian War Lesson
Colonial Period & Revolution Rumblings Lesson
Boston Massacre & Boston Tea Party Lesson
First Shots & Declaration of Independence Lesson
American War for Independence Battles Lesson
Valley Forge & Battle of Yorktown Lesson
American Literature Lesson & American War for Independence Review
Colonial Christmas Party
Three Branches of Government Lesson
President George Washington Lesson
Louisiana Purchase Lesson
War of 1812 Lesson
Monroe Doctrine Lesson
Trail of Tears Lesson
Oregon Trail & Battle of Alamo Lesson
California Gold Rush & Pony Express Lesson
American Industrial Revolution Lesson
Underground Railroad Lesson
Abolitionists & Women Suffragists Lesson
Civil War: The Confederate States & Abraham Lincoln Lesson
Civil War Battles Lesson
Civil War Party & End of Year Review Game
Fun, Free Hands-on Unit Studies (My Lessons in All Subjects)
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