23 November, 2011

Food on The Mayflower: Bringing the Story to Life

In preparation for Thanksgiving, our class has been learning about the origins of the holiday.

Similarly to last year, I made our classroom housekeeping area into The Mayflower, and the children have had great fun looking through telescopes for land, putting our classroom babies to bed in hammocks, pretending to be seasick (yes, this is a favorite), and surviving a terrible storm at sea!  We have also spent some time during our morning circle retelling the story of how and why the group of people we call "the pilgrims" climbed aboard that ship in 1620.  I like to tell the story with sound effects (a thunderstorm at sea track), and act out some of the parts such as when the sailors repaired a main beam of the ship which had broken during the storm, with a "great iron screw."

Another way I brought the story to life was with food.  The passengers and sailors on board The Mayflower ate food preserved without the aid of refrigeration.  (This is something my four and five year old students can hardly imagine.) We discussed together what foods the children had at home today, that would keep well without being refrigerated.  They thought of food like crackers and potato chips.  I thought this was good thinking, and it led well into introducing some of the foods people had eaten on The Mayflower!

Okay, people on The Mayflower didn't really eat beef jerky and sardines, but again the idea here is to eat some of the kinds of foods they had.  Our food is listed below, and in parentheses are the foods people actually would have eaten on The Mayflower.

  • dried edamame  (dried peas)
  • dried green beans (dried beans)
  • beef jerky (salt horse)
  • dried apples (dried fruit)
  • hard wheat crackers (hard tack)
  • caned sardines (dried fish)
  • Oh, and I also gave the children water as everything was so salty, but I also explained to them that had they been on board The Mayflower they would have had to drink beer!  Yes, even the children drank beer because the water became brackish.  Yuck!
Almost everything we ate was dried and very salty - similarly to some of the food available on The Mayflower.  We ate without the lights on in the classroom (to represent how dark it must have been below the decks on the ship) while we listened to the sounds of a thunderstorm at sea!

I think this was a great way to bring a bit of The Mayflower's journey, to life.  Hopefully it was a memorable experience for the children - even if it was not necessarily a delicious one.  


  1. your prekindergarten looks beautiful! I absolutely love the hollow log that you sanded and polished, especially with the candle showing through the hole. I will be on the look out for beautiful pieces that I could do the same to

  2. Holy Cow.
    You are Awesome!

    What a way to make History become real and relatable! These kids might remember this lesson for the rest of their lives.


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