Pilgrim/Thanksgiving Unit


How to Create a Pilgrims-Thanksgiving Unit based on The Checklist by Cindy Downes

This lesson is ©Copyright 2004, 2008 by Cindy Downes. All rights reserved. Permission is given to homeschooling parents to use this unit free of charge in their own homeschool only. This unit may not be reprinted in any other form, for any other purpose (commercial or otherwise) without permission from Cindy Downes. Contact: contact@oklahomahomeschool.com.

Step 1: From page 79 of The Checklist, Early American Settlements, select the topics that relate to this unit and are appropriate for your child. This will be the basis for the unit. Keep it short so that it can be done in two - six weeks. For example, I would choose:

  • 1620, Plymouth Colony Founded
  • 1631, First Thanksgiving
  • William Bradford
  • Squanto
  • Miles Standish
  • John Alden
  • Mayflower Compact
  • Pilgrims
  • Separatists
  • Thanksgiving

Step 2. Select resources on the Internet for teaching the unit. There are so many free ones! Do a google search for each of the names and terms above. Here are a few that I found:

Step 3. Select books for teaching the unit. The hard part is selecting the right ones. Select them based on the needs of your family - Christian based, the time you have allowed for the unit, and reading levels of your children. Use one for a family read aloud and assign others to your children according to their abilities and interests. Purchase or borrow from the library. Here are some that I discovered:

  • If You Sailed on the Mayflower by: Ann McGovern. Imagine being a Pilgrim on the Mayflower, anxiously awaiting arrival in a new land. This book answers a variety of questions about Pilgrim life--both on the ship and on shore. ISBN 0590451618

  • The Mayflower Adventure, American Adventure Series #1 by: Colleen Reece. John and Sarah have lived in Holland all of their lives. But not anymore. Their parents, along with many other friends, have decided to move to America, the New World. While they know that God will travel with them, there are many things the Smythes and their friends don't know. One of their ships will start to sink. Fierce Atlantic storms will batter the Mayflower, threatening to tear her apart. Many people will get sick, and some won't live to see their new home. How will John and Sarah survive the voyage? ISBN 1577480597

  • Almost Home: A Story Based on the Life of Mayflower's Mary Chilton by Wendy Lawton. Almost Home is the story of the Pilgrims' journey to America, based on the life of Mary Chilton, an actual passenger on the Mayflower! The Story shows God's providence and provision on their journey. ISBN 0802436374.

  • Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness. When Bartholemew, Remember, and Mary Allerton and their parents first step down from the Mayflower after sixty days at sea, they never dream that life in the New World will be so hard. Many in their Plymouth colony won't make it through the winter, and the colony's first harvest is possible only with the help of two friends, Samoset and Squanto. Richly detailed paintings show how the pilgrims lived after landing at Plymouth, through the dark winter and into the busy days of spring, summer, and fall. Culminating with the excitement of the original Thanksgiving feast, Three Young Pilgrims makes history come alive. ISBN 0689802080.

  • Dear America: A Journey to the New World; The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620 by Kathryn Lasky. A 12-year-old pilgrim girl makes the exciting yet dangerous journey on the Mayflower, filling her diary with thoughts about new friends, contact with Native Americans at Plymouth Colony, and the sickness that leaves her motherless. Historical fiction for ages 8 to 12. ISBN 059050214X.

  • Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Diane Stanley. Join the Time-Traveling Twins as they sit down to an enormous THREE-DAY feast, complete with puddings, pompions, pottages, and, of course, turkeys. Meet Squanto and the other Native Americans. Help with the harvest. Find out what it was really like to be a Pilgrim.

  • Mary of Plymouth by James Otis. Discover the joys and hardships the Pilgrims faced in the New World all as seen through the observant eyes of a young girl. Little Mary and the Pilgrims come to an America today's children would not recognize. Desolate and cold, there are no homes, no churches, no stores, no crops, no livestock. How did the Pilgrims build homes in the bitter cold of a New England winter? What did they eat? How did they construct a fireplace with no bricks? What did they use to make candles and eating utensils? What about elections...church services...Indians...table manners...cooking...new foods? ISBN 0060270691.

  • My Name is America: The Journal of Jasper Pierce, A Pilgrim Boy, 1620 by Ann Rinaldi. Caught in the tides of history, 14-year-old indentured servant Jasper is adventure-bound when he sets sail on board the Mayflower! Based on solid research, this fictional first-person account reveals the day-to-day hardships real people like Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins, John Alden, Edward Winslow, and Governor Bradford faced as they struggled to survive in the New World. A compelling read for ages 9 to 12.

  • The Mayflower Secret, Trailblazer Series #26 (William Bradford) by Dave & Neta Jackson. Thirteen year old Elizabeth Tilley, an orphan, and life in the new colony. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.
  • The Pilgrims at Plymouth by Lucille Recht Penner. Life on the Mayflower was harsh. When the Pilgrims reached America, things got even worse. More than half the Pilgrims died the first winter. Luckily, the Pilgrims made friends with the Indians who lived nearby. Thanks to the Indians, the Pilgrims set up the first successful American colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

  • The Legend of Squanto - audiodrama on CD, Learn how God miraculously equipped Squanto, a captive of European slave traders, to change the course of U.S. history.

  • Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. Your 4- to 8-year-olds will be amazed to discover that the real hero of the first Thanksgiving was not English or Indian---but God. ISBN 0849958644.

  • Don't Know Much About the Pilgrims by Kenneth Davis. ISBN 0060286091.

  • Daily LIfe in the Pilgrim Colony, 1636 by Paul Erickson. ISBN 0395988411.

Step 4. Select hands-on activities, art projects, crafts, recipes and games to make the unit fun for your kinesthetic and visual learners. Do one or two a day during the unit. Here are a few activity books and several websites that will help:

Step 5: Integrate music into the unit for your auditory learners.

Step 6: Watch a video for family night. Always good for your visual learners. Check your library or rent.

Step 7: Assign worksheets, composition projects, and give quizzes to your Read/Write learners. Do one or two a day. You may have to develop them yourself or search the Internet for freebies.

For information on scheduling, see Sample Schedule.

Be sure to enter these topics on your copy of The Checklist.

Please let me know if any of these links do not work. Email: contact@oklahomahomeschool.com.

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