First Thanksgiving Reader's Theater Ideas
Use these transcripts of interviews with historical interpreters from Plimoth Plantation as inspiration for Thanksgiving reader's theater. They'll help introduce your students to life in the 1620s in the New World.
- Grades: 3–5
Conducted with expert historical interpreters from Plimoth Plantation, a living museum of 17th-century Plymouth that showcases the Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community in the 1600s, these interviews are a creative entry point into life in 1621.
Here are three quick ideas to help you get started:
- Break each interview into short sections and assign small groups to perform the interviews
- Have students write a letter as one of the characters portrayed in an interviews
- Use the interviews as research starters and have students write their own original reader's theater skits
For more first Thanksgiving resources, explore The First Thanksgiving online activity.
On the Mayflower
John Alden was hired in Southampton, England, to be the cooper aboard the Mayflower. As cooper, he is in charge of the barrels and casks of supplies, which are needed both during the voyage and for the new colony. Here are his answers to questions asked by students.
As one of the mates aboard the Mayflower, Robert Coppin assists Master Jones in sailing the ship. He is the only sailor aboard who has been to New England before. Here are his answers to questions asked by students.
Elizabeth is traveling to America with her husband and two stepchildren. She's pregnant and may give birth during the voyage. Here are her answers to students' questions.
Life in Plimoth
John Alden was a cooper, or barrelmaker, on the Mayflower. Here, he answers students' questions on why he stayed in New Plymouth and about life there as a husbandman, or farmer, as well as a cooper.
Priscilla Mullins traveled on the Mayflower with her parents, her brother, and a servant -- all of whom died during the first winter in Plimoth. Here she answers questions about the voyage, life in the New World, Thanksgiving, and the Wampanoag.
Elinor came to Plimoth with her husband and her two sons. She was one of the few adult women who lived through the first winter in Plimoth and survived its terrible sickness. Here are her answers to questions from students.
William served as an elder of the Separatist church in Holland and was the religious leader of Plimoth for many years. He and his wife sailed on the Mayflower with their two youngest sons. Their three older children were left behind in Leiden, Holland. Here are his answers to students' questions.
Elizabeth arrived in America with her husband, two children, and two stepchildren. Here are her answers to students questions about the voyage, life at Plimoth, and more.
Damaris was three years old when she and her mother, Elizabeth, traveled on the Mayflower. Here are their answers to students' questions.
After falling overboard on the Mayflower journey, John arrived safely in New England. He has been a servant to the first governor of Plymouth Colony, a yeoman farmer, and one of the assistant governors to Governor Bradford. He is married with two small children. Here are his answers to questions from students.
Students at every reading level often complain that learning about history is dull and boring and adds no meaning to their own lives. Use this play about the pilgrims at Plymouth to prove them wrong!
Native American Perspectives
The Wampanoag warrior Fast Turtle, a historical interpreter from Plimoth Plantation, answers Scholastic's questions about life in the Wampanoag tribe, the tribe's relationship with the Pilgrims, and the 1621 Thanksgiving Feast. This interview transcript can be used as a Readers' Theater script or research material.