Friday, September 14, 2012

Mayflower Mayhem!

Happy (early) Mayflower Day!  (The actual holiday falls on Sunday, September 16th.  Why do we celebrate it this early, you ask?  We celebrate it now because the Pilgrims set sail on September 6th, officially, so this is the time that they were on the high seas!)  I wanted Maggie to learn about the Mayflower and I thought it would be a great time to include her friends for some co-op learning!  To start, I set out to make some cookies, I was going to call "Plymouth Rocks."  I got the idea from a tear-out from an old magazine (I can't recall which one), but they didn't end up looking quite like they were supposed to.  Oh well, at least they were tasty!

To start, I used a sugar cookie mix to make our "Plymouth Rocks," and before they went into the oven to bake, I used a toothpick to carve a rectangle and the year 1620 into the dough (as the recipe suggested). 
 Not surprisingly, the baking process made my dates unrecognizable!  
 After they cooled, the recipe called for a glaze of 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, and one drop each of black food coloring and green food coloring.  Then, using a pastry brush, it instructed you to brush on the glaze and let harden for an hour.  (Mine were looking ROUGH!)
 In the end, though, the kids were excited to have "Plymouth Rocks" for dessert.
(This is how they looked in the magazine photo ... WAY better than mine!  My question is, how did they get the inscription to look that good when you're supposed to write it into the dough before baking?  I'm skeptical that this went well for anyone who tried it!)
 Then, I got to work setting the scene ...
 I made this little woven paper cuff for the silverware.  
For lunch, I decided to continued with the "Plymouth Rock" theme and serve baked potatoes.  (My friends brought salad and fruit to go with them!)  For the toppings' bowls, I made these little sails from white cardstock and wooden skewers.  To keep them upright in the toppings (cheese, sour cream, and chives), I stuck the skewers in a small piece of cauliflower at the bottom.
 Then, I filled them up!
 Here is my baked potato bar, minus the baked potatoes, all set to sail into our tummies!
For a beverage, I served ice water, colored with a single drop of blue food coloring and called it "Ocean Water."  (We did, however, talk about why we couldn't drink real ocean water if we were sailing the seas!)
 I also lit candles, to simulate the lights that would have been below deck in the Pilgrim's cabins.
 And, of course, don't get me near a roll of crepe paper!  Yikes! 
Here is the dining table, ready for some crew!
To start, we watched Snoopy's The Mayflower Voyagers and discussed what it was like to be on the Mayflower in 1620.  The kids LOVED this movie! 
(Here is a still shot from the same.)
I also referred to these books and their pictures while I explained to the children what Mayflower life was like ... Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage, a National Geographic book (with real photos from reenactments of the voyage at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts) ...
... If You Sailed On They Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern (This one has great illustrations!) ...
... and Across the Wide Dark Sea: The Mayflower Journey by Jean Van Leeuwen.  (I even made the kids link arms to simulate the proximity of the Pilgrims under the main deck and had them sway back and forth together.  Then, I pretended to be sick on one of them to show them how gross conditions were for the Pilgrims.  A lot of pretend hurling then ensued.)  :)
After our video and discussion about the Mayflower, we ate lunch by candlelight, just as the Pilgrims would have in bad weather.  
After we finished up lunch and ate our "Plymouth Rock Cookies," we did this great craft I found at  For the same, you need light blue construction paper, brown paint, a foam brush, white paper, scissors, glue, a blue marker, and some "Learn to Letter" manuscript paper.  First, cut the manuscript paper so that there are only two lines to write on and so that it will fit at the bottom of your construction paper, like you see Liam's paper, below.  Glue down, and write just above it, "If I was a Pilgrim on the Mayflower and could take one thing with me, it would be ..." so that they can complete the sentence on the manuscript paper lines.
 Have them use the blue marker to complete the sentence on the manuscript paper and to draw wavy lines for the sea on the blue paper, like you see Leah's, below.  Next, using the foam brush, have your child paint one hand with the brown paint and place the painted hand onto the blue paper above his/her water line, being sure the fingers are spread. 
 Finally, use your scissors to cut small paper sails from your white paper and then glue onto your handprint for your Mayflower.
 Here is Maggie's "Handprint Mayflower," below.  She would bring Emmett with her, our cat.  :)
Happy crafting!  :)


  1. I wish I lived near ya'll! lol :) Love it!

  2. Amber, we will get you and Michael over here one day to join us! We are having a little Oktoberfest (with beef hot dogs we're calling "bratwursts" and NO BEER!) here on the 3rd! Do you want to join us?!? :)