Searching for a New Home

K, 1, 2

The purpose of this lesson is to give the children background information on the early pilgrims and the reasons for their migration from England. It will also introduce them to the idea that in leaving their home, the Pilgrims met people of different cultures.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • state why the pilgrims left their home.
  • role-play the experience of not understanding or being understood.
  • define the core democratic values.
  • write about the experience of the pilgrims in Holland/The Netherlands and the core democratic values.
  • A copy of If You Sailed on the Mayflower by Ann McGovern (see Bibliographical References)
  • Journals and pencils
  • A copy for each student of gibberish text (Attachment One: Special Directions—Very Important!)
  • World Map (If possible, you should be able to write on the map.)
Home Connection 

None for this lesson.

  • McGovern, Anne. If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620. Scholastic, 1993. ISBN: 0590451618


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Play Water Music by Handel, or sing the “Water Song” from Lesson One: Get on the Boat with the children.

  2. Introduce the book If You Sailed on the Mayflower. Tell the students that you will be reading aloud parts of the book to help them understand the journey, or voyage, of the pilgrims. Read pages 10-12 today.

    • Tell the students that you have declared a law that they will no longer be able to attend the church of their choice. They must attend your (the teacher’s) church. Tell them if they do not go to your church, you will have them arrested and put them in jail. The children should get a sense of lost freedom as evidenced by responses of “not fair” and “I wouldn’t like it.”

    • Explain that the Pilgrims did not think this was fair. They felt so strongly about their own church, that they decided to leave their homes and go to another country where there weren’t laws like this. Go to the map and show England. Draw a line on the map from England to Holland/The Netherlands.

    • Ask the students, “I wonder how they liked it in this new country?” This new country had different surroundings, new people and a new language—Dutch—to learn.

    • Tell the children that you have some important special directions for them that will help them understand how the pilgrims felt in Holland/The Netherlands. Pass out/read aloud the gibberish on Attachment One: Special Directions—Very Important! Act as if you understand them and are eager for the students to understand them because they are important. Then bring the children together for discussion. Guide the children through a discussion of what they thought the directions meant and how they felt about not being able to understand them.

    • Explain that the pilgrims experienced this frustration in Holland. Even though the pilgrims had religious freedom, they faced other problems including not being able to speak Dutch.

    • Introduce and define the core democratic values of liberty, pursuit of happiness, common good, justice, equality and diversity. Write the terms on the board. Tell the students that these are values we hold dearly in our country today. They are important to us because not having these freedoms in other countries brought people, like the pilgrims, to this country.

    • The students write in their journals from the point of view of a pilgrim who has decided to leave Holland. The journal should reflect the frustration of that experience, including what would be difficult in a place where you could not understand the language. The journal entries should also name some of the core democratic values as reasons for seeking a new home.


Assess journal entries to make sure they include the idea that it would have been hard to be in a place where they could not be understood. They may give examples such as they could not go to school, it would be difficult to go to a shop to buy food or to get a job. The entries should also include some references to the core democratic values.

Cross Curriculum 

None for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.6 Identify and describe fundamental democratic principles.