Children's Literature in the Social Studies Curriculum

The Pilgrims


Fifth Grade Level

Ann Michelle L. Brower

Lesson Plans Included

Introduction to the Pilgrims

Everyday life of the Pilgrims

Coming to America : Where do the Pilgrims fit in?

The Settling of Plymouth Coloney

Early Government of Plymouth


Book Title: Three Young Pilgrims

Author: Cheryl Harness

Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks : September 1995

Curriculum Developer: Ann Michelle L. Brower

Summary: This is the story of the voyage of the Mayflower told from the view point of the three Allerton siblings who were on board the ship. The book tells of their voyage across the Atlantic and their first year here on the North American Continent.

Social Studies Relevance: The book would work well with a unit on the Pilgrims. It is a good book for looking at the early settlement of North America by Europeans, how holidays and traditions start, mapping skills, and crops and harvest time.

Grade Level Focus: Fifth Grade

Relationship to Social Studies Core:

Title of Lesson: Introduction to the Pilgrims


*Students will be able to generate a list of questions they want answered about the pilgrims.

Materials Need: Three pieces of chart paper, marker, Three Young Pilgrims .

KWL Strategy:

Begin by hanging two pieces of chart paper on the chalkboard. Label the first sheet "What we know about the pilgrims." Label the second sheet "What we want to learn." Have the students raise their hands and tell you the things they know or think they know about the Pilgrims. List all items on the first piece of chart paper. On the second piece of chart paper have the students generate a list of things that they want to learn about the Pilgrims. (For example: "Why they came?" "How many came?" "What kind of clothes they wore?" "What they ate?" etc.) At the end of the mini-unit take out the third piece of chart paper and hang it on the chalkboard. Label the third sheet "What we have learned about the Pilgrims". Have the students name all the things they have learned about the Pilgrims throughout the unit. List these items on the chart paper. Then take out the first two pieces of chart paper and compare them to the new list the class has just generated. Lead a discussion on all the things the students have learned and what misconceptions were cleared up during the unit.


Read the book Three Young Pilgrims to introduce the journey of the Pilgrims to the students.Then have the students discuss what kind of things they found interesting in the book and what they want to know more about. Explain to the students that over the next several days the class is going to investigate the ideas that they have discussed as well as those you, as the teacher, feel are important.

Evaluation: Evaluation of participation when generating the lists.


Title of Lesson: Everyday life of the Pilgrims


*Students will have a basic understanding of the everyday life of the Pilgrims and will be able to list ten facts about different aspects of their life.

Materials: Pencil, paper, list from KWL strategy. Note this activity requires research time in
the library

Inquiry Stategy 1:

1. Take out the second list ( the things the students want to learn) generated in the KWL activity and hang it on the board. Divide the class into groups of three or four students. Assign each group a topic from the list.

2. Explain to the students that each group is responsible for finding and listing at least ten facts about their topic. (Topics that should be include: clothing, food, weapons, cooking utensils, and housing, if they are not mentioned on the list. This type of background knowledge will be useful for the diary activity in lesson plan titled, "The Settling of Plymouth Colony.")

3. Have one student in each group share their information with the class.

Evaluation: Students will turn in their papers to be checked for the completion of the list of ten facts on their assigned topic.


Title of Lesson: Coming to America : Where do the Pilgrims fit in?


*Given a list of explorers students will be able to create a time line.
*Students will be able to list five facts about a particular explorer or event.

Materials Needed: Event strips, yarn and date strips. Note you will need to take a trip to the library to do the inquiry activity. (See appendix)

Inquiry Strategy 2:

1. Explain to the students that they are going to be doing an inquiry activity that is going to require some research time in the school library. Tell the students that this activity will help them understand what time frame the Pilgrims fit in, in the settlement of North America.

2. Divide the class into teams of two people. Give each team the name of one explorer or event to research. Have the students bring paper and pencil with them to the library so they can write down any information they find that they want to include in their papers. They should list at least five things about their person or event. Tell students that they may use any facts they find that are of interest to them. Instruct them that they should include the date of their explorer's journey to the New World or the date that the event took place.

3. After you have completed the inquiry project have the students share their information with the class. Have each team pick one person to read their facts to the class.

Activity :Time Line

1. Explain to students that you have event strips and dates that you want them to match up on a time line.

2. String a long piece of yarn across a wall and tape it in place. Have the student tape the date strips to the yarn in chronological order. Then have the students match up the events to the correct dates and have them tape these event strips on.

Evaluation: Examine students papers to verify that they have included at least five facts. Also students will be observed for participation in the time line activity.


Title of Lesson: The Settling of Plymouth Colony


*Students will be able to write a diary entry using correct information about food, clothes, and other aspects of Pilgrim life.

*Students will be able to create a story map of the Pilgrim's journey using the correct places and dates.

Materials Needed: Story map outline (This outline should include the eastern coast of North America, the Atlantic Ocean, England and the western coast of Europe.), the list of places the Pilgrims went that should be placed on the story map, volume P of an encyclopedia (or other source that lists the places that the Pilgrims traveled), pencil, and paper. (See Appendix)

Activity 1:

1. Explain to students that you are going to read or explain a brief section out of the encyclopedia (or other selection) that lists the events in the journey of the Pilgrims to North America. Tell the students to pay close attention because they will have to place the events on a story map.

2. Hand out the story map outline and list of events. Have students write the events in the correct location on the map and put the dates with the location.

Activity 2:

1. Give each student a piece of writing paper.

2. Explain to students that they should imagine that they are a passenger on the Mayflower. Have them write a journal entry for one day in the life of that person. Include what they ate, who they met, what things they did either on the boat or at Plymouth.

Evaluation: Have students turn in their completed story map to verify that all students have placed each event in the proper location with the proper date. Also have the students hand in their diary paper to check for accuracy.


Title of Lesson: Early Government of Plymouth


*Students will be able to explain why "The Mayflower Compact is not considered to be a good governing document.

*Students will be able to create their own governing document.

Materials Needed: Paper, pencil, a copy of "The Mayflower Compact"


Read "The Mayflower Compact." Ask students why they think the Pilgrims wrote the Mayflower compact.Give the students time to think about the questions. In teams to two have students discuss whether they think it is a good governing document and have them explain why or why not. Have the team come up with a joint decision to the question. Then as a class discuss each teams decision. Share with students that "The Mayflower Compact" was written as a compromise and does not deal with issues like crime, land ownership, schools etc. This is why it is not considered a good governing document.

Activity: Create Your Own Governing Document

Explain to students that they are going to be creating their own governing document. Begin the activity by having the students brainstorm the kinds of problems and laws that might be addressed in a governing document. List these ideas on the board. (You might get them thinking by mentioning one of the following: crime, punishment, land ownership, water rights, role of religion, role of education, role of morals.). Once you have generated a good sized list divide the class into groups of four or five. Give each group a couple of sheets of paper and a pencil. Tell the class that each group represents a group of people who are on a spaceship that is going to colonize a new planet. Have each group draw up a governing document that will be the basis for their new system of governing on this planet. Allow each group twenty to twenty-five minutes to write their document. Then have each group share their document and explain why they think it is a good governing document.

Evaluation: Students will be observed for participation in the discussions. The documents will be turned in and evaluated for the completion of the assignment.

*Note a good follow up activity might be to have students plan what they would need to take on a space ship to colonize a new planet. (How much food, clothing, bedding etc.)




Title Of Lesson: Coming to America: Where do the Pilgrims fit in?

List for Inquiry Strategy

Lief Ericsson

Christopher Columbus

John Cabot


Jacques Cartier

Hernando De Soto

Virginia Dare

Bartholomew Gosnold

Jamestown Colony

Samuel de Champlain

Henry Hudson

John Smith

Captain Thomas Dermer


List for Activity 1

Native Americans

Before 1002

Leif Ericsson (sails to New world)


Christopher Columbus (Hispaniola and Cuba)


John Cabot (Nova Scotia)


Cortes (Mexico City)


Jacques Cartier (Canada)


Hernando De Soto (Crosses the Mississippi)


Virginia Dare (Born in Ranoke)


Bartholomew Gosnold (Names Cape Cod)


Jamestown Colony (founded)


Samuel de Champlain (Colony in Quebec)


Henry Hudson (Hudson Bay)


John Smith (Explores New England)


Captain Thomas Dermer (Capawack Island)

Early 1620

Pilgrims (Plymouth)

Dec. 1620

*The above list gives the name, the event, and the date.


Title of Lesson: The Settling of Plymouth Coloney

List of Places and Dates for story map

Separatists (Pilgrims) move to The Netherlands


Separatists return to England


Separatist leave on the Speedwell and Mayflower from England


Speedwell and Mayflower turn back (twice)


Mayflower leaves for the New World

Sept. 1620

Mayflower anchors in Provincetown Harbor

Nov. 1620

Mayflower lands at Plymouth Harbor

Dec. 1620

Pilgrims meet Squanto and Samoset

Spring 1621

First Pilgrim Harvest Feast

Autumn 1621