The Mayflower Voyage


This week we read Across the Wide Dark Sea by Jean Van Leeuwen a historical fiction account of the Mayflower voyage. Then we did some online research about the Pilgrims and their journey. We tried to imagine what being onboard the Mayflower would have been like.

We learned that the 102 passengers on the Mayflower mostly lived on the ‘tween deck, in an area with estimated dimensions of 58 by 24 feet. To get an idea of that size, we measured out an area outside with those dimensions, and all the fifth graders at our school (a few more than 102 kids) stood together in it. It felt pretty crowded, even without any adults! Can you imagine what it would have been like to live so close to other people for a 66-day trip at sea? To make it more challenging, even after they arrived in the New World, many of them had to remain on the ship for months!


Every day this week during reading time, we dimmed the lights and read by (electric) candlelight, to simulate the darkness of the ship. We listened to sound effects that sounded like being in a wooden ship. On Wednesday, while we read we ate a meal like one the Pilgrims would have had on board: beans and dry bread. Goody M and Goody H were kind enough to serve us!





By Mayflower pilgrims (as signed) (Unknown) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, we did a close reading of an important primary source document, the Mayflower Compact. Although the original signed document has been lost, we read a version that was copied down by William Bradford, one of the signers.  After reading it a few times and discussing the unfamiliar words, it was a lot easier to understand than it was at first! We were working on summarizing this week, so we were asked to come up for a sentence of 12 words or less to summarize the Mayflower Compact. Here are a few of our answers.

We will have our own government in this new land.

For our religion, we agree to make laws and follow them.

We’ll follow our own rules and our own religion in this colony.

What else can you teach us about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower?



  1. Dear Mrs.Hamman,

    It was very inserting to be doing those things to resemble what life was like on the Mayflower. I thought it was fascinating how we tried to resemble the trip by eating what they ate, being put int a space they we were in, in the light they were in and listing to the sounds they heard. I think it better gave us the idea of how they live helping us to do better on tests and reports about them having a small idea of how they lived. This was a fun event and I think it will most likely work again for something else.


  2. I liked how jordyn looked the same as Mrs. Hamman’s mom

  3. It would be fun to be on the Mayflower for 66 days but it also wouldn’t be fun I would get sea sick and all that old food I’d be sick.

  4. Dear Mrs.Hamman, thank you for showing us how the Mayflower was like! It was really that small on the Mayflower and they only ate pork beans and dried bread.

  5. Hello, My name is Mr. Geiman and I am a 4th grade teacher at Blue Ball Elementary school in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. My student and I are very excited about blogging and enjoy reading your blog posts. If you can please visit our class blog page at

    Then from the class blog page you can visit my students individual blog pages and write comments. We would love to hear from you all.

  6. It would be cool on the Mayflower but crowded thank you Mrs.Hamman

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