We spent just over two months learning about the Pilgrims’ journey from England to America and then spent some time learning about their friend Squanto. Middle Boy and I are quite taken with Squanto and found his life story fascinating. I spent some time doing extra research and reading on this amazing man and actually wept when reading about his death and suspected poisoning at the hands of the local Native Americans. Our books mention that he became a Christian and asked for prayers as he died so that he could go to Heaven…I truly look forward to meeting him when my own pilgrimage in this world is over and I finally journey Home.
Our first book was Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey. My scholars loved this book and constantly begged for one more chapter…just one more chapter. I think they liked that the focus of the book was mostly from the children’s viewpoint. They also loved all of the history facts added by Rea Berg. Sparkles actually squealed with happiness when Mrs. Berg mentioned Pocahontas’ visit to England. Sometimes we followed the rabbit trails these added notes took us on…because…that’s just what homeschoolers do.
In the book we learned that the pilgrim children ate a meal of hodgepodge stew and seed cakes when they first arrived in Holland. So, naturally, we had to make the meal ourselves. Food is just a great hands on project for history. I found this recipe for Nova Scotia Hodge Podge and made it for the crew. I have no idea if this is what was actually served in Holland in the early 1600’s but it seemed to fit the description from the book. The stew is delicious and will most likely go into our regular menu rotation. I didn’t have time to make the proper seed cakes (Littlest makes kitchen work a bit challenging) so we just made poppy-seed muffins. I think the proper seed cake was something like a sponge cake with caraway seeds. Recipes are our favorite history projects!!
The lessons with Pilgrim Stories did have a few pictures with some copy work to put in the history notebook. The older two copied the Mayflower Compact into their notebooks and I let Middle Boy just paste a copy into his book and decorate the page. This assignment was not in the guide-book but they need the extra penmanship practice and I think it is a very important document to know. I had them copy it out on parchment paper and then we smoked the edges to give it an aged look…and I did set one of them on fire! ! Next time I decide to “age” a project we’ll work at the kitchen sink…After finishing the book the crew worked on drawing and painting a map of the Mayflower’s voyage to America. We also watch a program called Mayflower Pilgrims on Amazon Prime that went nicely with the book.
Our second book was Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla. This book took us on an adventure with Squanto of the Patuxet’s. We all loved this book…it wasn’t long enough!! The kids were upset that Squanto was treated so badly by some Englishmen. They were offended when he was put on display in London and angry when he was captured by the slavers. We were overjoyed when he met Capt. John Smith who helped him get back to North America. And while reading of Squanto’s sad discovery that his people and family were gone…well I cried. I had to put the book down and we all wept for Squanto.
The guide for this book was mostly discussion. There was one or maybe two copy work assignments and a coloring page of the first Thanksgiving. While studying the life of Squanto we also looked through the DK North American Indians book and North American Indians by Marie and Douglas Gorsline (not part of Beautiful Feet Books study). The last book by the Gorsline’s was a book I had read as a child and loved. We made a couple of projects while learning about Native American’s. Our first project was a game called the “bowl game” and you can find the directions at NativeTech. We painted one side of six wooden disks for the rocks and we used a woven paper plate holder for the bowl. We also used little match like sticks with the game. I did a search on Google images to get ideas on how to make the game pieces inexpensively. The kids had a lot of fun with the game. Our second project was making Talking Sticks. I found a kit for making these and we talked about why it is important to listen when someone else is speaking. Not merely waiting for your chance to say something but really listening to what someone else has to say.
Our last book was The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall. This book has beautiful illustrations and is told from the view-point of the Pilgrims…like they were really talking to you. The book also has a glossary in the back to help the reader understand some of the language and terminology…words such as vergi, pottles, pipkins, etc. My scholars were absolutely stunned to learn that if children misbehaved their father was but in stocks in front of the town as punishment. I wish I had my camera ready because the looks on their faces were horrified! I think they were imagining how much trouble those children would be in when their father returned home.
We also did two map projects with this study. First we charted the course of the Mayflower. We did these maps exactly the same as out Christopher Columbus maps. The second map was of Squanto’s amazing journey. I needed to change-up how we made our maps this time. I used this idea from Confessions of a Homeschooler to make our second map. These maps turned out beautifully…but I need more ideas for map making. If you have any ideas please share!!!
We wrapped this study up the day before Thanksgiving so out timing worked out perfectly. Next year we may try our hand at some authentic Pilgrim and Native American recipes. The guide-book ends this section with a suggestion on researching early American Christmas celebrations. The Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas but the Virginia settlers did as well as the Moravians in Pennsylvania. So we will hunt for clues on the topic this week and see what we find out.
Everyone had to write a final paper at the end of our study. I gave them several prompts from which to choose. Sparkles chose to write a letter as a passenger aboard the Mayflower. Middle Boy did a narration on the life of Squanto and Oldest came up with his own writing prompt. He chose to write about the Doctor (Who) taking him to see the first Thanksgiving. I thought that was a fun idea and even found a Tardis picture on the internet for him to put in his notebook. He wants all of you to know that he travels with the Ninth Doctor.
I ended our study of the Pilgrims with a post from Rea Berg’s blog (she is the co-author of our guide-book and founder of Beautiful Feet Books). Her post helped us to understand God’s providential guidance in the lives of the Pilgrims and the founding of this country.