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Pilgrims Lesson for Kids

Updated on August 13, 2018
iijuan12 profile image

I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 8.

Pilgrims and Thanksgiving Lesson
Pilgrims and Thanksgiving Lesson

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?

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Weekly Biography Presentations: Squanto
Weekly Biography Presentations: Squanto

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.

Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness

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.

Three Young Pilgrims
Three Young Pilgrims

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 and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas

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

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving

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.

 
"Planting" corn in a wet paper towel in a bag
"Planting" corn in a wet paper towel in a bag
What the sprouted corn looked like 1 week later
What the sprouted corn looked like 1 week later

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)
  • Water

Eating popcorn and turkey to remember what was eaten at the first Thanksgiving meal
Eating popcorn and turkey to remember what was eaten at the first Thanksgiving meal

Thanksgiving Meal

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:

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:

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

Optional Homework

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (The Time-Traveling Twins) by Diane Stanley - All book images are from amazon .com.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 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 Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters
Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (The Time-Traveling Twins) by Diane Stanley - All book images are from amazon .com.
Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (The Time-Traveling Twins) by Diane Stanley - All book images are from amazon .com.
You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower!: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long by Peter Cook
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
The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving (Graphic History) by Mary Englar
On The Mayflower by Kate Waters
On The Mayflower by Kate Waters
Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl 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
Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters
Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters
Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters

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

Image credit: http://lumdimsum .com/2012/11/22/on-thanksgiving-thank-goodness-were-not-turkeys/
Image credit: http://lumdimsum .com/2012/11/22/on-thanksgiving-thank-goodness-were-not-turkeys/

Looking for all of my American History Lessons?

(My middle school level

American History lessons can be found at https://hubpages.com/education/TeachingAmHistory .)

© 2018 iijuan12

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    • iijuan12 profile imageAUTHOR

      iijuan12 

      2 months ago from Florida

      That is very interesting that American Studies are becoming more popular in the UK!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 months ago from UK

      Your lessons are definitely broadening my knowledge of American history. In the UK, as with most other places, our history lessons are focused very much on the UK. Information about the history of other countries is either picked up by chance or by doing further studies. Degree courses in American Studies have become much more popular and available here in recent years.

    • iijuan12 profile imageAUTHOR

      iijuan12 

      2 months ago from Florida

      Thank you so much!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 months ago from UK

      I have learned a lot from reading this article.

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