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Pilgrims Lesson

Updated on November 16, 2016

This is part 2 of a 4 part hands-on unit on America's Early Settlers. Create pilgrim costumes, make stewed pompion (pumpkin), plant corn, and more! My lessons are geared toward 2nd-3rd grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 14 children between the ages of 0-12. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, after school program, or co-op!

Introduction & Pompion

1. Stretch. Pray. Review responsibility.

2. Discuss I Thessalonians 5:18.

3. Recap Jamestown. Ask the children what we learned about last week. You can add that 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. Later today we are going to talk about a Native American named Squanto who was kidnapped and taken to Europe. Squanto sailed with John Smith when John Smith was exploring the Massachusetts territory. Squanto served as a guide and translator for John Smith. John Smith wasn’t the only person Squanto helped, though. Squanto also helped the Separatists, who we today call the Pilgrims

4. (Ahead of time cut a pumpkin into 4 pieces. If you cut it at home, bring it in still intact with its seeds.) Explain that the people who we will study today, the separatists (who we today call pilgrims), would have eaten a lot of pumpkins. They called them pompions back then. Ask the children if they have ever eaten pumpkin before and let them answer. Back them pumpkins weren’t eaten as desserts (such as pumpkin pie). They were eaten as a side dish vegetable, like yellow squash or zucchini. Before we cook this pumpkin, what do we need to do? (Remove the seeds.) Divide the children into 4 groups. Give them each a section of pumpkin & let them remove the seeds. (If desired, save the seeds on a baking sheet, remove the stringy pulp, salt them and bake them along with the pumpkin.) Place the pumpkin quarters on a foil-lined pan and bake at 400 for 1 hour. You’ll need to get these out of the oven after an hour & the scoop out the cooked pumpkin into 4 bowls.

YOU WILL NEED: a large pumpkin, cutting board, sharp knife, 2 large baking sheets, aluminum foil, something to cover the tables (such as newspaper), 4 bowls to hold the seeds, 1 spoon per child for scooping out seeds, salt (optional)

Mayflower Trip

5. Ask children to each name something they know about the Pilgrims. If no one mentions the Mayflower, mention it and tell them we’re going to all squeeze together like the Pilgrims did in the hull of the Mayflower. Squeeze together in the hallway. The mom reading the story sits in the front and mom #2 sits in the back of the children to keep them squished in.

6. Read Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness about Pilgrims and Mayflower voyage while sitting in the hallway.

7. After reading, ask the children how they enjoyed sitting all cooped up. This is what the pilgrims experienced for months at sea amongst feeling seasick and having to smell other people who had gotten sea sick.

Book to read for activity 5

Three Young Pilgrims
Three Young Pilgrims

We read many books on the pilgrims, and this was our overall favorite. This is a wonderful and historically accurate account of the Allerton family as they travel to America on the Mayflower. It also has beautiful illustrations!

 
Pilgrim collars
Pilgrim collars

Pilgrim Attire: Collars

8. Talk about what the separatists/pilgrims really wore and how that is different from what people typically think of when they think about what they wore. People typically think of them as wearing all black with large hats with silver buckles and shoes with buckles. They actually wore colorful clothing and didn’t have buckles on their hats or shoes. (You can get more info at rootsweb.ancestry.com.) We will make stereotypical pilgrims costumes to be kept (not to go home today) so they can be used during Thanksgiving co-op night:

a) Make Pilgrim Collars: On white paper, cut out a large circle. On one side, cut a "v" that points to the center of your circle and cut a center hole wide enough to fit around your lower neck. Fold the paper using an accordion fold (like what you’d do to make a paper fan). This was known as a falling band style. Punch a hole in each side and attach yarn at the opening (where you cut out the 'v") to tie around your neck and lay on your shoulders. Opening is worn at the front.

YOU WILL NEED: hole punch (1 per family), 2 pieces of white yarn (each about 15 inches long) per child, 1 pairs of children's scissors per child, & one 12x18 inch sheet of white construction paper per child (If you can’t find this, just use standard sized white construction paper. If you can’t find that either, white printer paper will be okay to use.)

Pilgrim hat (Notice it has no buckle.)
Pilgrim hat (Notice it has no buckle.)

Pilgrim Attire: Head Coverings

b) Head coverings: Separate boys and girls if your girls are ages 7+. When I did this with kindergartners, all the children made the pilgrim hat for boys.

- Pilgrim Hat for Boys - Do not include the buckle as the separatists didn’t have buckles on their hats. This will be much shorter than the girl's bonnet activity, so work with the boys on singing Psalm 23 while they wait.

YOU WILL NEED: 1 hat per child cut out of black poster board, 1 headband per child cut out of black poster board, & 1 stapler (per family)

Head bonnets for the lady pilgrims
Head bonnets for the lady pilgrims

Pilgrim Attire: Head Coverings: Bonnets for Girls & Psalm 23

- Pilgrim Bonnet for Girls (for ages 7+)

Follow the directions at this link.

YOU WILL NEED: one 12x18 piece of white paper per girll, hole punch, 2 pieces of white yarn or ribbon per child, & 1 pair of children's scissors per child

9. Ask the children what their favorite church song is. The separatists sang psalms from the Bible. On the first Thanksgiving feast, they sang Psalm 23 together. As the children wear their pilgrim collars & head-coverings, have them sing the 23rd Psalm. (Psalm 23B from New Song's Psalms of Praise CD) We will sing this psalm during the Thanksgiving presentation night. (If you need music, you can use the Psalm 23 Hymn on YouTube or any other version.

YOU WILL NEED: words to 23rd Psalm from Psalter, New Song's Psalms of Praise CD (optional) & CD player (optional)

Optional Costume Additions for Those Teachers/Parents (Like Me) Who Do Not Sew

Forum Novelties Pilgrim Boy Costume, Child's Medium
Forum Novelties Pilgrim Boy Costume, Child's Medium

If you are going to be doing a play and would like to avoid all the work of collecting not-so-stereotypical mismatched pieces, you can go the easy route and purchase this pre-made pilgrim's costume. The company also offers a dress and bonnet for girls.

 

Squanto

10. Read about Squanto: Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas.

Book to read for activity 10

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

This book brings back 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 loved this book so much that I bought a copy and have given it as a gift to others.

 
Pilgrims planting corn with fish
Pilgrims planting corn with fish
Pilgrims planting corn with fish finished project
Pilgrims planting corn with fish finished project
Planting corn kernels -- in wet paper towels or in wet dirt
Planting corn kernels -- in wet paper towels or in wet dirt

Pilgrims Planting Corn

11. The separatists probably would have starved had Squanto not taught them the Wampanoag way of planting corn. Ask, “What did they add to each mound of dirt?” (a fish which would provide nutrients to the soil.) Make a “How Pilgrims Grew Corn” picture: On the bottom of a piece of paper glue 3 goldfish crackers with heads together. Glue 5 grains of popcorn kernels around the fish. Glue a rounded mound shape over the corn and sprinkle dirt over it. Shake off excess. Don't cover the fish and corn with dirt. While they glue together their pictures, remind them of how Squanto taught the pilgrims to plant corn.

YOU WILL NEED: 1 half sheet of paper per child (computer printer paper will work), 8 goldfish crackers per child (3 for the craft & 5 for snacking), 5 popcorn kernel per child, spoonful of soil/dirt per child (or use crushed Oreo cookies if you'd prefer to not use dirt), & glue (not a gluestick) per child

12. Plant real corn. Give each child a ziplock bag that has a scoop of potting soil in it. While children are doing this activity, walk around and let them each scoop a spoonful of water into their bag. Have the children write their names on their bags. Have them place 3 goldfish crackers in the bag to represent the fish the separatists planted with the corn as shown to them by Squanto. Place 2-3 popcorn kernels in the soil. Add some water and seal bag. Tell children to put it in a sunny window and the seeds should sprout in about a week. (Yes, this does work! Two moms left the bags in their vans and the next week a corn plant was growing!) *Option 2: If you'd prefer, this also works without soil. Add a paper towel, the corn kernel, and enough water to make the paper towel moist. Close the baggie.

YOU WILL NEED: 1 sandwich-size Ziplock bag per child each with a scoop of potting soil (about 1 cup), 3 goldfish crackers per child, 3 popcorn kernels per child, a mixing spoon for spooning out the water, & a small bowl of water

Tug of War Image Credit: http://www.aamjiwnaang.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Tug-of-War-2.jpg
Tug of War Image Credit: http://www.aamjiwnaang.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Tug-of-War-2.jpg
Thanksgiving Games
Thanksgiving Games

Thanksgiving Games

15. At the first Thanksgiving feast, the Separatists and Wampanoag not only ate food. They also played games. Have children remove their collars & hats and head outdoors. At the first Thanksgiving feast, the men and women challenged each other to a game of tug-of-war. The men called over to the women, “Come, Mistresses, try your strength.” Over a grassy area, have the boys and girls play tug-of-war. Before they start, have the boys recite after you (the mom), “Come, Mistresses, try your strength.”

YOU WILL NEED: 1 rope for tug-of-war game

16. The men showed their strength by “pitching the bar.” Each one tried to throw a huge, heavy log the farthest. Group children into groups of 4. Try to match up children by their abilities, so have the 4 oldest boys go against each other first, then the 4 youngest girls, etc. Four children will go at a time. Give each child one 8 pound weight. Tell them to pretend it is a heavy log. Have them stand along a line on the sidewalk and throw the “log” as far as they can into the grass.

YOU WILL NEED: Four 8 pound weights (or use 4 logs if you have them)

Stewed Pompion
Stewed Pompion

Stewed Pompion & Review

17. Make Stewed Pompion (Pumpkin): Divide children into 4 groups and give them each a quarter of the baked pumpkin. Give them each a spoon to scoop out the pumpkin into a bowl (OR do this ahead of time if the pumpkin is still really hot -- which is what we did). Have them mash pumpkin with a mixing spoon and then each group will add 2 teaspoons cider vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to their mixing bowl. Let the children each try a spoonful. This is the way it was served back then. Then each group will add 3 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Serve it to the children in disposable cups along with cups of water if they would like some. The children did not especially care for this, but it was a staple to the pilgrim's diet. Send the remaining "Stewed Pompion" home with any mom who would like to make pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie with the leftovers.

YOU WILL NEED: 12 spoons (NOT disposable), 6 tsp. ground ginger, 2 tsp. salt, 3 large mixing bowls, 3 mixing spoons, three 1/3 measuring cups, three 1 teaspoon measuring spoons, 12 tablespoons butter or margarine, 8 tsp. cider vinegar, 1 1/3 c. brown sugar, & 24 small disposable cups

Our authentic Thanksgiving meal dishes
Our authentic Thanksgiving meal dishes
Jamestown Fort Replica that some of the children  did as their homework assignment
Jamestown Fort Replica that some of the children did as their homework assignment

18. If you are not holding a Thanksgiving feast at the end of this unit, serve Thanksgiving feast sampler plates. Each family brought a dish that might have been served at the first Thanksgiving feast. (Look at Authentic Thanksgiving Recipes for ideas.) While the children were playing the games, a few instructors/moms prepared sampler plates for each child and adult. When the children sat down to eat, we went through each item one by one so that the children would taste each item and know what it was. After they tasted each item, they were allowed to get more if they wanted second helpings. We included the tasting of the sweetened roasted pompion (pumpkin) dish in this activity. (The first time we did this lesson, we did a Thanksgiving feast together. The second time we did this lesson, we did not have the feast as a separate event.)

YOU WILL NEED: a Thanksgiving dish to share and a serving utensil (1 per family) and a plate and cup for every child and adult

19. (If you have extra time) Hold a jigging match. At the first Thanksgiving feast, the separatist women held a jigging match. They danced and danced to the sound of a pipe and drum. The winner was the lady who could dance the longest. Play some music and have the children dance.

YOU WILL NEED: music & a way to play the music (Medieval music would be the most authentic but any upbeat music would be fine)

20. Let children select prizes if they made Jamestown fort replica that was assigned last week as a bonus homework assignment.

21. 5 Minute Review of what we learned.

Joke: Where did the pilgrims land when they came to America?

On their feet!

Material List for the Lesson

(This list does not include the materials for the girls' bonnets.)

*Everyone needs to bring per child:

-children's scissors

-hole punch (1 per family – only if you have one already)

-stapler (1 per family – only if you have one already)

-glue (not a gluestick)

*Items to be assigned to individuals:

-books: “Three Young Pilgrims” by Cheryl Harness and “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving” by Eric Metaxas

-a large pumpkin, cutting board, sharp knife, 2 large baking sheets, aluminum foil, something to cover the tables (such as newspaper), 4 bowls to hold the seeds, 1 spoon per child for scooping out seeds, salt (optional)

-One 12x18 inch sheet of white construction paper per child (If you can’t find this, just use standard sized white construction paper. If you can’t find that either, white printer paper will be okay to use.) and 2 pieces of white yarn (each about 15 inches long) per child

-1 hat per child cut out of black posterboard

-1 headband per child cut out of black posterboard

-words to 23rd Psalm from psalter, New Song's Psalms of Praise CD (optional), and CD player (optional)

-1 half sheet of paper per child (computer printer paper will work), 11 goldfish crackers per child, 8 popcorn kernel per child, spoonful of soil/dirt per child, 1 sandwich-size Ziplock bag per child each with a scoop of potting soil (about 1 cup)

-a mixing spoon, a small bowl of water, 1 hand wipe/baby wipe (to clean hands) per child & adult, 1 large mixing bowl per group of 4 children, 1 sturdy mixing spoon per group of 4 children, 1/3 measuring cup, 1 teaspoon measuring spoon, at least 6 tsp. ground ginger, at least 2 tsp. salt, at least 12 tablespoons butter, at least 8 tsp. apple cider vinegar, at least 1 1/3 c. brown sugar

-1 disposable spoon per child and adult, 1 napkin child and adult, and 1 small disposable cup per child and adult

-1 rope for tug-of-war game and Four 8 pound weights

-music & a way to play the music (Medieval music would be the most authentic but any upbeat music would be fine) (optional)

Ready for the next lesson?

Building a Jamestown-style waddle and daub house during Lesson 1: Jamestown Lesson
Building a Jamestown-style waddle and daub house during Lesson 1: Jamestown Lesson
Looking for all my lessons and unit studies?
Looking for all my lessons and unit studies?

Build a waddle and daub house like they did in Jamestown, create pilgrim costumes, set up a beaver trading post as you study Dutch settlers, cook a batch of William Penn's applesauce, perform a play on the Pilgrims, eat a semi-authentic Thanksgiving feast, and more during this fun 4 lesson unit study on Early American Settlers.

  • Jamestown Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on unit on America's Early Settlers. Build a waddle and daub house like they did in Jamestown, dress as cavaliers and hunt for gold, cook and taste gruel, and more!
  • Pilgrims Lesson - This is part 2 of a 4 part hands-on unit on America's Early Settlers. Create pilgrim costumes, make stewed pompion (pumpkin), plant corn, and more!
  • Dutch and Swede Settlers of Early America Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part hands-on unit on Early American Settlers. Make butter, bake authentic Dutch Christmas cookies, set up a beaver trading post, build log cabins out of craft sticks, and more!
  • William Penn and Thirteen Colonies Lesson - This is part 4 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Early American Settlers. Cook a batch of Dutch applesauce, match up the Thirteen Colonies, and make costumes to prepare for the Thanksgiving Presentation.
  • Thanksgiving Feast, Children's Play, & Authentic Recipes - This is the end of the unit activity for a 4 week hands-on unit on Early American Settlers. Eat a feast (complete with authentic dishes), perform a fun Thanksgiving play, and sing a Psalm (just as the Pilgrims did for their Thanksgiving feasts). Authentic and semi-authentic recipes are included!
  • Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Looking for all of my lessons and unit studies? Over the years I have posted over 35 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at the above link.

Our Favorite Books on Pilgrims - I read MANY books on the pilgrims with my boys. These were our favorites.

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (Time-Traveling Twins)
Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (Time-Traveling Twins)

This is a great story book about a grandmother who takes her grandchildren back in time. It not only provides basic information (in a storybook format), but it also corrects many of the misconceptions we hold about Thanksgiving and the pilgrims in general. Even my busy toddler enjoyed this book!

 
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters -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 Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B Pumphrey (a chapter book)
Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters -Book images are from amazon.com.
Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters -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
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
Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B Pumphrey (a chapter book)
Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B Pumphrey (a chapter book)

We also loved reading Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters, which is a great story with historical reenactment photos that make the characters very real. Even my toddler enjoyed this book! You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower!: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long by Peter Cook. This has lots of fun tidbits of information in the humorous but accurate account of the Mayflower trip. The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving (Graphic History) by Mary Englar is the story in comic book format and is historically accurate. We loved this book! Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters is a great story with historical reenactment photos that make the characters very real. Even my toddler enjoyed this book! If you are looking for a chapter book, Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B Pumphrey is great!

Our Favorite Dramatized Audio CD

The Legend of Squanto (Radio Theatre) [Audiobook, Cd] [Audio Cd] Paul Mccusker
The Legend of Squanto (Radio Theatre) [Audiobook, Cd] [Audio Cd] Paul Mccusker

This isn't a book. It's a dramatized audio CD that tells the story of Squanto. It is wonderful! We listen to it every November.

 

Free Thanksgiving Lapbooks

Amanda Bennett Thanksgiving Lapbook

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Harry Devlin Lapbook

A Thanksgiving Wish by Michael Rosen Lapbook: Cut and paste this link: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/thanksgiving_wish.php

Give Thanks to the Lord by Karma Wilson Lapbook: Cut and paste this link: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/give_thanks_to_the_lord.php

YouTube Clips We Enjoyed

Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving - Drive Thru History

This Is America, Charlie Brown:The Mayflower Voyagers

When is Thanksgiving: Colonizing America: Crash Course History

Mayflower Story (History Channel) - We only watched parts of this documentary.

Konos Volume II
Konos Volume II

Konos Curriculum

Would you like to teach this way every day?

Konos Curriculum

I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys!

Konos Home School Mentor

If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!

© 2011 iijuan12

Would you have sailed on the Mayflower? - Or just leave me a note. I love getting feedback from you!

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    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      I probably would not have wanted to sail on the Mayflower----I can't swim and am afaid of water deeper than my waist. Very nice lens and good information.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

      After seeing the Mayflower Replica at Plymouth Rock, I am grateful that it was our ancestors who traveled across the ocean in that tiny boat. Great lens with lots of helpful info. Angel blessed.

    • KingLobster LM profile image

      KingLobster LM 5 years ago

      This is a great lens. The title made me smile because of the fact that my mother used to homeschool my brother and I, and it seemed as if we were constantly learning about pilgrims. We used to joke that the only two things that we learned about were pilgrims and hand writing. haha. At any rate, this is a wonderful lens. I'll have a look at some of your others, they all appear to be very well written.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wonderful! I must add a link to my Autumn Lens!

    • reflectionhaiku profile image

      reflectionhaiku 5 years ago

      We've been looking for great Pilgrims and Thanksgiving books for the children to read so thanks so much for sharing this very insightful and helpful lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You have provided some really great ideas, not just for home schooling, I found it really interesting

    • profile image

      marsha32 5 years ago

      I would have so much fun with this one!

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Love the easy craft ideas to have children gain a better understanding about Pilgrims and how they grew corn and lived!

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @shellys-space: Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens for the Thanksgiving season.

      Really fun crafts for all ages to enjoy doing together. :)

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you!

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