Learning by Doing
Kindergarteners spend the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving walking in the shoes of the pilgrims who traveled on the Mayflower. The students craft the ship from cardboard boxes and duct tape. They create sails with tissue paper and curtains with yarn. Drawing on the cardboard sides of the ship, they keep inventory of the provisions needed for the journey across the ocean. By becoming early settlers, the students learn about the history, food, homes and clothing of the pilgrims and the Native Americans they encountered.
After surviving the winter by sharing one small cabin, the pilgrims took advantage of the spring weather to begin building homes. The students put together their village with shoeboxes, paint and sticks. From the Native Americans, the pilgrims learned to grow corn, squash and beans. The classroom garden includes a colorful display of finger-painted corn. Finally, students clothe paper dolls in the garments the pilgrims needed to survive the conditions they encountered in the New World.
I want children to understand the significance of the Thanksgiving holiday. I want them to understand how truly blessed we are by the simple fact that we have warm homes, family, friends who support us, and enough food. I also think their struggles epitomize our lower school motto, "Stay in the struggle!" as the Pilgrims certainly did! I think that children learn this lesson best by pretending (more formally called simulating) the experience. This active dramatic play is much more memorable and fun!
Sandra Thompson, Kindergarten Teacher