The Mayflower Sets Sail


The date is September 6, 1620. The Mayflower, a ship normally used to carry cargo, not people, set sail for the place we now call America. After two months at sea, the passengers were grateful to finally land, but the long winter ahead would have a major impact on their group. Of course, the arrival of the Pilgrims would have even more of an impact on the Native North American Indians, changing the Natives’ way of life forever…

Thank you for being a part of the Professional Educators Network. We hope you enjoy this first installment of The National Theatre for Children’s newest project. Please watch the educational video with your students, download the poster by this month’s artist, Kestrel Hendrickson, and watch Kestrel’s Meet the Artist video. Welcome to History’s ARTifacts.


Meet the Artist: Kestrel Hendrickson



Activities for The Mayflower Sets Sail

The Mayflower and its occupants were not the first people to embark for America. Exploration and trade had been established for centuries prior to that. Have your students learn about explorers and traders such as Amerigo Vespucci, Giovanni da Verrazano and Jacques Cartier.
The Mayflower traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for approximately 2,750 miles. In order to convert the miles into kilometers, it is necessary to use a calculation. One mile is equal to 1.609 kilometers. In order to figure out the kilometers traveled by the Mayflower:
  • 2,750 miles X 1.609 = 4,827 kilometers
Have your students convert other distances to familiarize themselves with imperial/metric conversions.
Navigating the Atlantic Ocean had been done for some time before the Mayflower went on its journey. By today’s methods, however, the use of a compass and hourglass seem ancient. Have your students discover the ways that a magnet can be used to guide a voyage as well as the ways the hourglass was used to keep time. Both of these devices can be used to keep a vessel on course and on time.
Many stories have been written about the Mayflower’s voyage and the difficulties endured by the pilgrims and crew. Stories have also been written about the effects the Mayflower’s arrival had on the indigenous people already living in America at the time. Have your students explore these ideas and themes and write stories of their own. They can take the form of short stories, diary entries or poems.