Pilgrim Immigration Lesson Plans: Then and Now

Pilgrim immigration lesson plans offer more than a study of these early settlers. It gives students an insight into modern immigration.

By Kristen Kindoll

Pilgrim Lesson Plans

According to a dictionary I used, there are five different definitions for the word pilgrim. The definitions range from the most familiar one referring to the Plymouth settlers to a definition of modern day immigrants seeking freedom in a new land. By studying all aspects of the word, students can gain a thorough understanding of this term.

Pilgrim lessons can start with a timeline. Have students take a long piece of paper and tape it to the ceiling, making sure to have written down key dates. Journey on the Mayflower has an interactive timeline with video segments. It is a perfect way to get an idea of the long, and arduous journey the pilgrims took. The Pilgrim Hall Museum has the story of the journey. If you live, or are planning to travel to Plymouth, MA, it is a must see stop on your travels back through time. Pilgrim Homes has pictures of the settlement and descriptions. This is a nice alternative to making a long distance field trip. Plimouth Plantation is the official site of the original settlement.

Wampanoag were the Native American tribes that occupied Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard and adjacent islands. Men and women roamed those areas hunting and fishing. Wampanoag History is an overview of the history, language and culture of the tribe. Wampanoag has excerpts of key categories, but lists other research links as well as current tribe leaders.

Like the pilgrims, many family's descendents travelled from afar to become American citizens. Ellis Island was in operation from 1892 till 1954. It processed over 12 million immigrants. The National Parks and Recreation Service Ellis Island site has quick links and helpful hints to plan a visit. For teachers, there is a distance learning opportunity, too. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Foundation has an unique feature to look at ship logs and ledgers to determine if a relative was indeed processed at Ellis Island. The lesson plans that follow can make the Pilgrim experience come alive.

Pilgrim Immigration Lesson Plans:

Pilgrims and Indians have cute patterns for hats. It recycles newspapers to make pilgrim men and women.  There are ways to make pilgrim clothes just out of white paper.

Pilgrim Projects have activities that go beyond the turkey crafts. There are younger and older children sections. Each idea is divided according to subject, which is very helpful for unit study.  There are fun pilgrim toys and games for modern children to try.

The Wampanoag Indians, A Thanksgiving Lesson examines how the modern day Wampanoag tribe feels about the holiday.

Ellis Island: Gateway to America has students research where immigrants came from and why they chose to come to America. They read the book, "Journey to Ellis Island: How my father came to America." by Carol Bierman as a way to begin the lesson.