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The Mayflower: Journey to a New Life

Nearly 400 years ago, a group of people left Europe to seek religious freedom. They made a treacherous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean on a ship called the Mayflower. Learn about the Mayflower and its journey to America with lessons and activities across the grades!


Mayflower In the early 1600s, the Pilgrims, also known as the Separatists, broke away from the Church of England to establish their own church. Some of the Separatists moved to Holland to escape persecution and to find religious freedom. They settled in the town of Leiden (also known as Leyden), where they stayed for about 12 years. Frustrated by the poor economic conditions in Holland, the Separatists decided to leave Europe and start a colony in America.


With the help of merchant investors, the Pilgrims got a charter to start a new colony. The Pilgrims left Holland on the Speedwell, a small ship, and sailed to England where they met other Separatists who were ready to sail on the Mayflower, a larger ship that had been used as a trading vessel. Unfortunately, dangerous leaks on the Speedwell prevented the ship from making the trip to America. Many of the Speedwell's passengers crowded onto the Mayflower.

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England in September, 1620, with 102 passengers and about 30 crew members on board. During the 66-day voyage, the Pilgrims faced many storms, two deaths and one birth. On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower reached what is now Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

What happened to the Mayflower?

The Mayflower returned to England in 1621 to be employed again as a trading ship. After the Mayflower's captain, Christopher Jones, died in early 1622, the ship was not used for two years. The last record of the Mayflower in 1624 indicated that the ship was in poor condition. There was a wood shortage in England at that time, and some have speculated that the Mayflower may have been broken apart and sold as scrap wood.

In 1957, a replica of the Mayflower was built in England and sailed from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts to commemorate the ship's original historic voyage. The replica, named Mayflower II, remains on exhibit in Plymouth, Massachusetts today.

Learn More!
General Resources about the Mayflower

Web sites


  • McGovern, Ann. If You Sailed on the Mayflower. Scholastic Trade, Reprint edition, 1993. (Ages 4-8)
    This book answers numerous questions about the Pilgrims' voyage on the Mayflower and their first year in America.


  • Waters, Kate. On the Mayflower: Voyage of the Ship's Apprentice and A Passenger Girl. Scholastic Trade, 1999. (Ages 4-8)
    Fiction, about two young people who befriend each other while traveling on the Mayflower.


  • Harness, Cheryl. Three Young Pilgrims. Aladdin Paperbacks, reprint edition, 1995. (Ages 4-8)
    A fictionalized account of the Mayflower voyage and life in the Plymouth colony from the perspective of three young siblings.


  • Reece, Colleen L. The Mayflower Adventure (American Adventure #1). Barbour & Co., 1998. (Ages 9-12)
    Part 1 of a series about American history.


  • Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 1991, paperback. (Ages 13 and up)
    This book gives a first-hand account of the voyage of the Mayflower and life in the Plymouth colony. Read an excerpt from this book (Bradford's History, Chapter 9) about the Mayflower's journey.


Voyage on the Mayflower

You will learn historical and cultural information about the Mayflower.

What was life like on the Mayflower? The Scholastic Voyage on the Mayflower Web site gives an online tour of the historic ship. The tour covers ten important parts of the Mayflower, duties of the crew, and the life of a typical passenger on the ship.

Additional Resources:

Mayflower Timeline Challenge

You will learn about history and chronology.

Many events occurred during the Mayflower's voyage to America. List some of the important events that happened during the trip in chronological order on the following worksheet.


Additional Resources:

People of the Mayflower

You will learn the about history and the techniques of writing and drawing.

Kindergarteners-2nd graders:
Historical accounts say that more than 30 children and teenagers traveled on the Mayflower. Who were they? List the names of the young people who traveled on the Mayflower. Draw a picture of the Mayflower and the young people who were its passengers. Use the attached worksheet.

3rd -12th graders:
Research information about the Mayflower passengers. After studying the information, write a paragraph about one of the families who traveled on the ship. Then, write a letter to one of the children in that family. Include in your letter a question that asks what it was like to be a young person during the voyage. Next, write a response that the young person might write back to you. Use the attached worksheet.

Additional Resources:

Mayflower Myths

Student Will Learn:
You will learn about some historical myths and facts.

Did the Mayflower make a second trip to America? Did the Pilgrims wear buckles? Find the answers to these questions at the Common Mayflower Myths Web site. Write the answers to more questions about Mayflower myths on a worksheet.

Additional Resources:

The Mayflower Compact

You will learn about an historical document.

While the Mayflower was anchored in Cape Cod, the Pilgrim leaders wrote a governing document that became known as the Mayflower Compact.

Study and discuss the Mayflower Compact. Create a "Mayflower Compact Glossary" by researching unfamiliar words and phrases in the document. Write your own "Homeschool Compact" for your family.

Additional Resources:

Mayflower Map Fun!

You will learn about geography and history.

Complete a printable map quiz about the Mayflower crossing.

Create a map showing the route the Mayflower traveled.

Make a tiny model of the Mayflower ship!

Additional Resources:

What Came on the Mayflower?

You will learn historical information about some of the supplies that the Pilgrims probably took with them on the Mayflower.

Discuss the meaning of the word supplies. Make a list of 10 supplies that you think the Pilgrims took with them on the Mayflower. Compare your list with historical information from online sources.

Additional Resources:

Article by Lowis Lewis, HLN Curriculum Development
Article © Homeschool Learning Network, All Rights Reserved.
















































Last Updated on Monday, 20 February 2012 19:09

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