Unit studies are always fun ways to sneak in extra learning, especially during the summer! I was eager to use "The Mayflower at Cape Cod: Stories, Activities, and Research That Connects 1620 With Life Today" by Rebecca Locklear with my rising 7th, 5th, and 3rd graders. I knew it would be a great addition to our summer learning!
"The Mayflower at Cape Cod" is a 7-lesson unit study on the Pilgrim survival story - the time before they settled at Plymouth. Each lesson begins with a Story which is around three pages and includes full-color maps and photos.
The lessons are:
- The First Encounter between Pilgrims and Native Indians
- Exploration Overview
- The Mayflower Landing at Cape Cod
- Search Expeditions
- Native Indians
- After the First Encounter
- Present Awareness
Following the Story is a list of Activities. These activities range from discussions to art projects to poetry to cooking! There are several pages of activities listed to go along with the Story.
After the Activities, there is a page of Research Topics for the lesson. Your child can choose one or two topics to research, or you can assign all of the topics if you are going in-depth with the unit study!
Following the Lessons, there are four Appendices. Appendix A is "A Chronology of Events of Cape Cod" and consists of a timeline from September 6, 1620 - December 16, 1620. Appendix B is a short list of "Mayflower Statistics", and Appendix C contains the answers to the questions in the lessons. Appendix D is "Seafood and Game Cards" to be used with Lesson 5.
HOW DID WE USE THIS?
We completed three lessons during this review period. I would read the Story to the kids, and then we would choose several activities to complete over the week. We chose not to do the extra research topics at this time.
In Lesson 1, we learned why the Pilgrims left Europe, where they landed, and what the "first encounter" was. We looked at a painting of the First Encounter and discussed the things that were wrong with the painting compared to the facts we learned. This was pretty fun, and the kids really remembered much more than I expected!
The next day, we drew a picture of what a Pilgrim may have seen from the Mayflower when it anchored, and how they may have felt. The kids did a great job on this one!
Some of the research topics included were "Ships and Flowers: Why did the British name ships after flowers? Both the Mayflower and Speedwell are flower names. When did the British name other ships after flowers?" and "Weapons: Examine English light armor, muskets, or swords of the 1600s. How were Native bows and arrows made in the 1600s? How did bow design change into the next century? Find out about obsidian arrowheads made by Native people in the West."
In Lesson 2, we learned a quick overview of the Age of Discovery in the 1400s, 1500s, and 1600s. While I read the Story, the kids one of the activities listed - "Note-taking Through Drawing." We folded a sheet of paper into 9 squares, a 3 x 3 grid, and listed the 1400s, 1500s, and 1600s at the top of each row. After I read each section in the story for the century, the kids and I discussed what to draw in each square and then they drew it before I read the next section. They really liked this activity!
The next day they had to pretend they were moving overseas and could only take 100 items with them. Each item of clothing counted as one item, but they didn't have to include food or some furniture. They also loved doing this, and their list was pretty eye-opening to them! At first they didn't think they would be able to list 100 things, but it didn't take long to fill up the list!
Some of the research topics included were "Slavery: Slavery is not unique to America. Colonists didn't invent slavery. Research Spanish galley slaves of the 1600s, and write a newspaper article about being sent to a place that was considered "worse than death." and "Tides: Explain how high and low tides are caused by the moon and why tides are higher with a New Moon and Full Moon. Then describe the tidal changes in Cape Cod Bay."
In Lesson 3, we read about the Pilgrims landing on Cape Cod and the Mayflower Compact. The first activity we did was have a discussion on being a "separatist" and how hard it is to go against the grain! We talk about this quite a bit as a family anyway, but it was nice to talk about it with the younger kids and hear their point of views and experiences. When I asked them if they had ever had to "go against the grain" they immediately thought of Halloween and Easter! We don't celebrate either holiday (we do celebrate Resurrection Day) or participate in any of the traditional activities like trick or treating, dressing up, egg hunts, and things like that. They talked about how it's hard sometimes to see their friends and cousins do those things when they can't, but they also know that we choose not to do these things because of our religious beliefs. It's even hard for me sometimes to go against the grain!
I also had them design a commemorative postage stamp based on the Mayflower Compact. They did a great job!
Some of the research topics for this lesson were "Oil Lamps: As the alternative to candles, what did oil lamps look like in the 1600s? What animal fats were used as fuel and how were they obtained? What plants were also used for fuel?" and "Food on Land: Some birds the Pilgrims killed while on Cape Cod in the winter months included partridges, geese, and ducks. Learn how to prepare one of the fowl for eating. Document with photos."
WHAT DID WE THINK?
I really like this study! It is very well-written, and the Stories are engaging and interesting! We all learned so much just from the first three lessons. I also love her choice of activities! There was a nice selection to choose from, although it was hard to choose just a few! There were activities for my art-loving daughter, my talkative, creative thinking son, and my quiet and thoughtful son. They all really enjoyed the activities! I was also impressed with the list of research topics. There was such a variety and they were all thought-provoking and interesting. I highly recommend this unit study! It could be used as a 7-week study or you could definitely extend it to last a lot longer by incorporating the research topics! It is listed for grades 6-12, but even my 3rd and 5th grader got quite a bit from it! It is available as a 74-page digital download for $8.50, which is a great deal!
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