Corbett Prep Pilgrims Immerse Themselves
in Lives of Early Settlers and the First Thanksgiving
The interactive social studies unit for kindergarten and PreK4 appeals to multiple intelligences.
Nov. 20, 2014 (TAMPA, Fla.) – The Early Primary Pilgrims prepared to board the Mayflower, clutching tiny pouches containing their fare for the voyage, and debated what would happen if they lost their pennies.
Would they have to swim to the New World? Stay at home? But then one student came up with a thoroughly modern solution — they could download an app to pay the fee on their smartphones.
The world PreK4 and Kindergarten students experience today is far different from the one that children knew in 1620. But students at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS have gained a better understanding of history after immersing themselves in the interactive social studies and science unit “A Living Thanksgiving.”
The lessons, spread over several days in November, bring the Thanksgiving story to life and are part of a beloved tradition for students in Corbett Prep’s Early Primary Division. The experience has evolved to incorporate an inquiry program that takes students on a journey through traditions and storytelling.
Teachers read and introduce students to a variety of fiction and nonfiction, including legends, to help them learn about the past and how storytelling has changed and developed throughout history.
A hands-on social studies unit for kindergarten and PreK4
“Living Thanksgiving” is an interactive social studies unit that challenges students in multiple ways and appeals to a variety of intelligences. Books about Pilgrim life connect to verbal-linguistic intelligences, while time outdoors working with wood, planting gardens, thatching roofs and washing clothes stimulate naturalist and kinesthetic intelligences. Teachers also ask open-ended questions to prompt students to “see, think and wonder” and encourage students to contrast their lifestyle with the Pilgrims.
“Do you think the life of a Pilgrim was easy?” PreK4 teacher Teresa Krig asked her class. Students would discover during their studies how hard Pilgrims of all ages worked.
Corbett Prep students started their educational journey through the 17th century by signing the ship’s log and climbing aboard the Mayflower, permanently docked near their classrooms.
“We sailed 66 days,” said kindergartner Eric Walker Jr.
The trip was rough, students said, taking on their roles with enthusiasm. They even had to leave their toys in England.
Once they landed in Massachusetts, they began the work of setting up a community and sustaining themselves. Dressed in vests, aprons and bonnets, students made candles for light, assembled scrubbers to clean vegetables and tied pine needles together for brooms. They stuffed pillowcases for their beds, wove cloth and made butter. The famous Native American Squanto even surprised the young Pilgrims with a visit and taught them how to use fish as fertilizer, and the Early Primary Pilgrims excitedly showed him what they had accomplished since their arrival.
Students, teachers and parent volunteers celebrated their hard work with a feast featuring vegetables “harvested” from their winter crop as well as turkey and pumpkin pie. While the original Pilgrims endured many struggles, the Corbett Prep Pilgrims enjoyed their time in Plymouth.
“This is an awesome Pilgrimland,” PreK4 student Aydan Shah said as he washed clothes one morning.
Corbett Prep teachers believe creating memorable experiences enables students to make real-life connections to curriculum-based studies. Thanksgiving now will hold new meaning and significance to the students who had the chance this year to learn about it by living it.