Early colonial history happened a long time ago to people unknown to kids, which can make it seem distant and disconnected from their daily reality. Sparking kids' interest in people and places far away in time gets easier when you translate the reality of life on the Mayflower into hands-on crafts, games and activities. Mayflower activities for kids give them a glimpse into the past to expand their understanding of things outside their personal experience.
Mayflower paper crafts provide a simple option to begin teaching young children about their ancestral roots. Kids can arrange paper shapes on a background to create the water, the ship and the sails. A hand print Mayflower uses a painted hand print or cutout of your child's hand as the hull with white paper sails glued on the fingers. Older children can build a Mayflower model out of a half walnut shell, a coffee sleeve, a shoebox or small gift box or a milk carton with one side cut out. Straws, craft sticks or wooden skewers serve as masts secured in place by tape, glue or a piece of craft dough in the bottom of the ship. No matter which design you choose, your child will be delighted to have his creation prominently displayed as a Thanksgiving centerpiece or as place cards at the dinner table.
Kids can also make edible Mayflower treats using bread as the hull and pretzels and slices of cheese or bread squares spread with cream cheese for the masts and sails. Alternatively, use half a cucumber sliced the long way as the hull. Scoop out the seeds and fill with yogurt or cream cheese to hold the skewer masts upright. Attach a paper sail to each mast. The edible creations give your child the opportunity to contribute Thanksgiving appetizers to the festivities.
As your kids mature, a homemade "you-are-there" Mayflower experience board game can give them a taste of what life on the ship was like for the early colonists. Work with your kids to design a game board map with consequence spaces or cards to draw that describe real situations that the Mayflower emigrants would have faced. For example, "A storm in the night blows the ship off course. Roll a die to see how many days it takes the captain to return to course and move back that number of spaces." Or "The hull springs a leak. Lose a turn." Or "It's a clear night for navigating by the stars, move ahead one space." Other scenarios could address the problems of seasickness, lack of food, spoilage, illness and unsanitary conditions. Once your game is complete, invite some friends over to play and serve Mayflower snacks.
Mayflower role play puts the kids in the driver's seat in considering how they might react in similar circumstances. For intermediate age children, this can stretch their thinking outside the box of their own reality to build understanding of times and cultures beyond their immediate experience. Assign each child a role such as captain or colonial leader, pregnant woman, laborer, craftsman, clergy or ship's crew. Give them a situation, such as “Mice have eaten the last barrel of pickled herring. Food is dangerously low. What do you think we should do?" Let them discuss the viewpoints of each character in regards to who should have priority in receiving any available food, if anyone; who has responsibility for the final decision and whether the colonists have to obey the ship's crew or adhere to the usual chain of command under the circumstances; and other issues that made life on the Mayflower difficult.