Settling the Plymouth Colony

Settling the Plymouth Colony

by Judie Haynes

Introduce the concepts of religious freedom and self-government with this social studies unit on the Plymouth Colony designed for Intermediate ESL students in grades 3-8.

The study of the Pilgrims, the Mayflower Compact, and the settlement of Plymouth is an excellent opportunity to develop an understanding of religious freedom and self-government with second language learners.

Highlight the importance of immigration in the history of the United States and link this information to students' own experiences. Help your students see the Pilgrims as the first immigrants. Provide "hands-on" activities which engage your ELLS in learning. Graphic organizers are important to make information comprehensible to second language learners.

Lesson topic

The Founding of the Plymouth Colony

Proficiency/Grade level

Advanced beginners-Intermediate Grades 4-8

Content Concepts and Skills

Vocabulary for colonization; social studies concepts of immigration, self- government and religious freedom

Vocabulary needed

Pilgrim, Mayflower, passenger, freedom, Compact, pray, king, Native Americans, tools, equal, rules, warriors, harvest, self-government, religious freedom. Vocabulary will vary according to grade and English language level.

Materials or Resources

Instructional Sequence

The Voyage of the Mayflower

Founding the Plymouth Colony

  • Find the New England Colonies on a map. Students label blank maps with the names of the New England Colonies. Have students match them with the U.S. states that are in existence today. Make connections between these states and the students' experiences: Visits to Boston, Plymouth or Connecticut; relatives who may live in one of these states; where they are in relationship to students' state.
  • Students should be able to understand the difficulties that the Pilgrims had and how hard they worked to survive in Plymouth. They should be able to understand the link between that desire for religious freedom and self-rule and how these are reflected in the constitution.
  • Make a time line for 1620-1621: Winter 1620; Spring 1621; Summer 1621; Fall 1621. Have students write in the events for each time period. Use this material to teach students how to pick out important information in an encyclopedia. Download an article on the Plimouth Colony from the internet and make copies for each student. Have them use highlighters to pick out the important facts.
  • Have students watch a slide show about Plimouth and the first Thanksgiving.
  • Have students study the life of the Wampanoag. Compare the life of the Pilgrims with the life of the Wampanoag in 1621.
  • Have students take an online Thanksgiving Webquest. This activity will increase knowledge as they work their way through the test. It will also encourage your students to read for detail.
  • Links for Thanksgiving

    Here are additional links for a Thanksgiving unit.

    1. Thanksgiving Flash Cards

    2. Thanksgiving lesson plans

    3. Thanksgiving Printables.

    4. Daily Life in Plimouth.

    5. Pilgrim Children Name Game

    7. Pilgrim Village

    8. Mayflower History


    Activity Downloads

    Note: To view the classroom activities, you must have Acrobat Reader intalled. Acrobat is a free application available from Adobe Systems.

    PDF fileMayflower Word Bank (3k .PDF)

    PDF fileThanksgiving story (9k .PDF)

    PDF fileColony comparison chart (2k .PDF)

    Related Links

    Thirteen Original Colonies
    The study of the colonization of the United States provides an excellent opportunity to introduce the concepts of American culture which may be unfamiliar to your student population. This lesson includes downloadable handouts.

    Using the Internet for Content Based Instruction
    Need ideas to enhance your content-based ESL instruction? Make your thematic units come alive and put pizzaz in your lessons by incorporating internet sites into your plans. If you teach small groups, you only need one computer to pique your studentsí interest.

    Resource Picks

    Explore America
    This American history series emphasizes the role of immigration, as well as religious and democratic values, in the development of the United States. Geography, economics, and literature are all tied to the history, then events are related to the students' own experiences.