Learning About Thanksgiving, Part 1: The Mayflower

This week we started our Thanksgiving unit.  I always begin my unit with the Mayflower.  The kids always find it fascinating.  They love learning about who was aboard, what they ate, what they were allowed to bring, and so on.  Here's a look at what we did with this historic ship/voyage this week.

On Tuesday, I read aloud some pages from If You Sailed the Mayflower.

Rather than make an anchor chart of facts, we completed a graphic organizer.  

I prompted the students along the way, but they provided all the answers. I realize that most of the time organizers do not require the use of actual sentences, but I'm always looking for ways to practice writing complete sentences! Then, the students decorated the background to go with the Mayflower image in the center of the organizer (thankfully, they all colored theirs to look like the ship was out to sea).

On Wednesday, we watched a video about the Mayflower on the Scholastic website.  They have a series of videos about the Pilgrims and Plymouth.  We will be watching another video next week.

The video was a bit long (just under 20 minutes), so I stopped it periodically and had the students write down one fact they learned up to that point.  They wrote these facts on their mini whiteboards.

What I loved about this is that they were watching the video with a purpose and they were held accountable because they knew they would be doing something with the facts they collected along the way.

I'm sure you're dying to know what they did with their facts. They made a book!  OK, OK, first, they shared their facts and we created an anchor chart.

In any event, the students used the facts from the anchor chart to make a book.

(OK, I just realized that two of these kiddos wrote about the same fact...sorry about the repetition...I tried to show some variety, but I guess I wasn't a very observant photographer-eek!)

I let them pick any four facts they wanted/liked and tasked them with writing a complete sentence for each fact (one sentence per page in the book).  Then, they illustrated the pages in their book.

Today, the kids completed a sort activity.  We read about what the Pilgrims could and could not bring aboard the Mayflower and then the students completed the sort. I always have the students color code their sorts as this helps them to focus a bit more and it keeps them organized.

After learning about the Mayflower and the voyage that the Pilgrims endured for 66 days, the students all agree that they would not have liked to be on that ship.  The thought of eating moldy cheese, salted meat, and being crowded in dark, damp quarters just didn't sound like fun to them.  And, I have to admit, I totally agree!

The Mayflower book, sort, and organizer are from my Thanksgiving unit, which is available on TpT.  I'm looking forward to next week when we will focus on Pilgrim life and The First Thanksgiving.  Stay tuned!
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  1. Friend this is super duper cute!!! I love how you stopped the video and you let the kiddos write down a fact. Such nice handwriting and coloring!! :) so your unit that you've created looks so good!! I love it all friend. The sort activity is super cute. What a great way for your smarties to learn and remember The Mayflower. Love, love, love!! You're such a FAB teacher!


    1. Aww, thank you! They were so excited to watch a video that they didn't even mind that I made it academic. Hehe. I can't wait to get started on Pilgrim life next week! Take care, friend!


  2. What a great post! I also love the way you stopped the video. I wanted to watch it with my Ks, but knew how long it was from the many times I have watched it with the upper grades. I think I can try this now! Pam
    Visit me at Teaching By The Sea!


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