On Monday, November 15, 1620

16 men set of on foot, clad in armor and burdened with muskets to explore the heavily wooded land that bordered the sandy beach. Finally, following a deer trail, they found a spring of fresh water. Today, that water still bubbles out of the ground. Later, they found “ a fine clear pond of fresh water, being about a musket shot broad and twice as long.” By now the explorers were tired, but as they headed back to the beach, a heap of sand caught their attention. Today, this spot is called Corn Hill and is where the Pilgrims uncovered a basket containing 3 to 4 bushels of corn. They took it, vowing to repay the owners when they found the people it belonged to.

On the fourteenth of July, 396 years later, over 40 Massachusetts Mayflower descendants of these brave explorers re-traced the Pilgrims’ Lower Cape journey. Throughout the day they traveled to many of the places the Pilgrims visited during the weeks they spent anchored off the coast of the Lower Cape.

IF YOU WERE A PILGRIM CHILD…..what would be your responsibilities in the New World?

There were 32 of you, your parents made all your choices for you, and you would spend most of your time working and learning the skills you would need to survive as an adult. There were no stores where you could buy food or clothing, or light bulbs or books. You had to learn to make or grow everything you needed. Even 5 year olds could run errands, fetch wood an herd the chickens. When girls were older, they helped their mothers so they could learn how to run a household. They would garden, learn to cook and preserve food, sew and mend. Older boys would help prepare the fields for planting, harvest the crops, tend live-stock, hunt, fish, and do any woodworking the family needed. Someone needed to know how to make bowls, beds and tables!

Children didn’t go to school...there weren’t any, but the parents would teach reading and writing...only after the chores were done and in the winter when there was less to do. The most common book in the Plymouth Colony was the Bible, so the children would learn to read Biblical passages.

Educational Resources

SMD SC encourages everyone to learn more about the beginnings of Plymouth Colony, including the Mayflower passengers, the Wampanoag Tribe, and their relationship with each other. This history is much more rich than many of us have been taught! We strive to debunk the Thanksgiving myth and provide resources to promote authentic discussions of the first encounters and relationship (including the struggles) between the Plymouth Colonists and the Wampanoag people, who had lived on that land for thousands of years.

The first harvest celebration was not a “Thanksgiving,” which would have been a solemn occasion, but a community celebration of surviving their first year and a successful harvest. The Wampanoag people joined the celebration, bringing 5 deer for the feasting. The festivities lasted about 3 days.

The Education and Junior Committees have jointly worked to gather well researched books, videos, and other resources for parents, teachers, and children to explore. Because most of the history we are exposed to has a European/colonist perspective, we have provided several resources recommended by the Wampanoag Tribe. We have also attempted to provide resources that present authentic perspectives of our history. For instance, we chose well-founded research, and we chose stories which consider the perspective, politics, and rich culture of the Wampanoag people and/or the Mayflower colonists.

We hope that all will enjoy exploring these resources. If you would like to assist in maintaining and updating these resources, please contact Kristen French, Education Assistant, kristenfrench.sc.mayflower@gmail.com.

Did you ever play?

Yes, if playing improved their bodies and their minds. They played Leapfrog, marbles and “ball and cup”. They also played board games like Naughts and Crosses (tic, tac, toe). They also had cloth dolls which they called poppets.

Wampanoag and Pilgrim Children played many games. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Cobb’s Castle

Place three large stones close together on the ground. That is the “cobb.” Place another stone on top. That is the “castle.” Step back and toss stones at the castle to try to knock it down. First to do so wins.


Similar to ‘heads or tails’, this Wampanoag game has kids bounce a bowl full of flat playing pieces — dark on one side, light on the other — onto the ground. You can play a version using a wooden salad bowl and pennies: A player chooses a side of the coin, and each time his side lands up during his turn, he earns a point.

All Hid

Basically another name for hide-and-seek. Organize two mixed-age teams, pairing adults with young children. Choose an older child from each team to protect “home base” when it is their turn to seek.

Foot Races

Very popular among young Native Americans. Pilgrim children most likely played versions of leapfrog and tag. Combine these traditions in an over-under relay race: Line up teams of at least 3 players. The first player hands an object — a toy, small pumpkin, etc. — backward over her head to the next player, who then passes it between his legs. Each player runs to the end of the line to continue passing the object until one team crosses the finish line.

Click below to Visit Plimouth Patuxet to play other games the Wampanoag and Pilgrim Children played:

What would you eat and drink?

Beer was the drink the whole family, even children, liked the best. You were lucky if you lived in one of the few families who knew how to brew beer; otherwise, you drank water which the Pilgrims thought was unhealthy. You wouldn’t drink milk.

Do you like to eat deer or swan? Those were delicacies, and lobster was everyday food. Just go to the beach where lobsters could always be found. Until ships began to arrive regularly, you could go years without sugar, butter, oil, vinegar and wine.

You and your family would think a lot about food. You had to make sure you had enough to last the whole year, until the garden flourished, the corn and the berries ripened next fall, and the hunting and fishing were good. Otherwise, you would go hungry. Nothing was wasted…

Here are some traditional recipes that the Wampanoags and Pilgrims would have made. Click on the picture to open the recipe.


Ship’s Biscuits...often called Hard Tack. These biscuits were made to last for a very long time...even 66 days, which was the length of the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World. The original recipe has only 3 ingredients, so the biscuits would be very hard.

Boiled Bread
Boiled Bread

Before people had ovens, they had to boil their bread! This version is from Homesteading.com.


A traditional Wampanoag dish that is made from dried corn, local berries, and nuts. It is boiled in water until it thickens, and is similar to a porridge or oatmeal. This version is from Plimouth.org

Turkey Sobaheg
Turkey Sobaheg

A traditional Turkey Stew.‘Sobaheg’ means ‘stew’ in Wampanoag.


Here are some great crafts for you to make- Click the picture and it will open a link for the craft on another website. Have Fun Creating!

Be sure to check out our coloring books in the SMD SC Shop.