Pilgrim Life

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This lesson was developed as part of the San Diego Unified School District's Patterns Project, a federally funded Technology Literacy Challenge Grant. This lesson involves the students in learning about Pilgrim life and comparing it to their life. They will be learning about the Mayflower adventure and creating a vehicle for their own life adventure. They will also work with a group and create a play about their life adventure.

Content Area and Grade Level

This lesson is anchored in the First Grade Social Studies standards and involves Language Arts.

Curriculum Standards

The students will complete a family tree, a Venn Diagram, create a vehicle for their own travel, and create a play about their life adventure. The students will utilize a rubric for self-assessment and teacher-assessment of their Venn Diagram. The will also receive participation and creativity grades for their creative dramatic. These activities focus on the Multiple Intelligences and focus on the Social Studies and Language Arts standards.

Social Studies Standards Addressed

  • Understand the relationship between communities across time through knowledge of national holidays and the achievements of the people associated with them.
  • Describe and compare the cultural life of American citizens in terms of beliefs,customs, traditions, and social practices.
  • Recognize the relationships among the various parts of a nation's cultural life.

Language Arts Standards Addressed

  • Use a Venn Diagram to demonstrate their ability to compare and contrast their life with the Pilgrims.
  • Participate in cooperative groups and creative dramatics to express their ideas of travel and Pilgrims.

Implementation Overview

This unit is organized with one activity each day. It involves whole class, individual, cooperative groups, and small group instruction. There is flexibility in the amount of time chosen to spend on each activity. You may chose to spend more or less time on the different activities. This time frame is a suggested time frame with flexibility as needed.

Due to the language in the links and the young age of the students, you may chose to guide your students through the tasks with the Process page. The tasks should be explained by the teacher and the students should be able to complete the tasks with little assistance (cross-age tech partner, aide, volunteer). Encourage the students to always be thinking, and comparing themselves to the Pilgrims so they can complete their Venn Diagram. You will need to change the page setup for printing the Venn Diagram so it is a side view and 115% image. Also, encourage the students to be thinking about the life adventure they would like to experience. If you would like to have the students complete the Venn Diagram on the computer, click on the envelope at the bottom of Task 3. Once it is on your desktop and the students have opened it, they can click in the circles and start typing!



Note: These resources are not written in "child" language. I use them with the whole class to avoid language difficulties.

Who is in your family? Where did they come from? Print a copy of this Family Tree and fill it out with your family. You will learn about your parents, brothers and sisters, and grandparents. This will be shared with the class about what you have learned about your ancestors.

Create a journal to write or draw the new information you are learning about the Pilgrims. Keep this in a safe place so you can write on it every day! You will be using this journal to help you create your Venn Diagram.

Where did the Pilgrims live? Look at the Pilgrim house. How is their house like your house? Is it the same or different?

Did the Pilgrims live in neighborhoods? Look at the Pilgrim Village. Is your neighborhood like theirs? Are your houses in a circle like theirs?

Look at the Pilgrim Clothes . What do the women wear? What do the men wear? What do the boys and girls wear? What colors do they wear?

What about the Pilgrim children. What kinds of games did they play? What kinds of chores did they have to do? Where did they sleep? Do they go to school? How do they learn?

Let's look at the Mayflower and see how many rooms there were on the Mayflower. How big was the Mayflower (feet)? What were some of the rooms for? Did they have bathrooms on the ship? Where did they sleep? Where did they eat?

Look at the pictures of the Mayflower. What do you see? What is the ship like?

Print out or download the Venn Diagram. You will be writing or drawing pictures of how you are alike or different than Pilgrims. Use your journal to help you complete your diagram.

Book Resources

Possible books to read:

  • Waters, Kate. Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl. Photographs by Russ Kendall. New York: Scholastic, 1989.
  • Waters, Kate. Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of A Pilgrim Boy. Photographs by Russ Kendall. New York: Scholastic, 1993.
  • Moger, Susan. Pilgrims: Complete Theme Unit Developed in Cooperation with Pilgrim Hall Museum. New York: Scholastic, 1995.
  • Dalgleish, Alice. The Thanksgiving Story. New York: Athenaem-Aladdin, 1954.
  • Anderson, Joan and George Ancona. The First Thanksgiving Feast. New York: Clarion Books, 1984.

Additional Resources

One teacher can implement this lesson within a First Grade classroom. Teachers may chose to team up with cross-age tech partners and/or utilize aides or volunteers, for the individual computer work.

Each teacher will need to judge the time they choose to spend on each activity. You may wish to print out the Venn Diagrams and have the students complete them manually, instead of utilizing the computer template.

Each classroom will need to have art supplies or a computer drawing program available for the creation of the vehicles and also other items available for the plays.

When the students are creating their plays and discussing what they may take along on the trip, you may want to have the students create a suitcase on a drawing program, like Kid Pix. In this drawing, they could draw, stamp, or label items they may be taking along on their trip.

Entry Level Skills and Knowledge

Students should be familiar with the computer and the mouse. The students will be receiving instructions on how to utilize the mouse to click on the Task and complete an assignment. The students will also be introduced to printing from the computer and the use of Venn Diagrams to record their discoveries.

The teacher will need a computer and knowledge of utilizing the TV to display the computer screen information for whole class instruction, otherwise, a space large enough for the class to see the computer screen for exploration and instruction.


The students will be assessed through teacher observations, completion of the family tree, completion of the Venn Diagram, creation of a vehicle for their adventure, and the dramatic play. There are rubrics for their vehicle creation, Venn Diagram, and their participation in the play.

Possible Variations

If you are a member of Scholastic Network, you may chose to focus on the Mayflower Voyage unit they have already developed. It is quite visual and interesting for the students, especially with the interactive tour.

You could also focus on the similarities and differences between the Pilgrims and Native Americans.


When the students are finished, they will have a better understanding of Pilgrim life. They will have made comparisons between their life and Pilgrim life. The students will also have created a vehicle for their own life adventure.

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