Make a Mini Mayflower
Students learn about appreciation while constructing a miniature Mayflower from a walnut shell.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
Students learn about appreciation and make something to give someone else.
- Construct a miniature Mayflower that will float in a clear plastic cup filled half way with water and colored with three drops of blue food coloring.
- 40 empty walnut half-shells
- 40 little balls of Plasticine Clay, 1/2 inch in diameter
- 40 toothpicks
- 40 1-inch x 2-inch rectangles of wax paper
- 40 4-ounce clear, hard plastic cups
- Blue food coloring
Set Up and Prepare
Divide the above materials into sets for each table group. Cafeteria trays are good for transporting each set to the tables. Have containers of water ready.
Tell students we will make a miniature or model of the Mayflower in an ocean. We will give it to the Native Americans as a token of appreciation, or a thank you, for being our friends and showing us how to survive our first year in America.
Step 1: Give each student walnut half-shell, a ball of Plasticine Clay, a toothpick, a wax paper rectangle, and a clear plastic cup.
Step 2: Put the Plasticine Clay ball inside the walnut shell.
Step 3: Construct a sail by poking the toothpick through the wax paper sail two times.
Step 4: Stick the toothpick mast and sail into the Plasticine Clay.
Step 5: Fill cups half way with water. Add three drops of blue food coloring to each cup.
Step 6: Show students how to carefully set each boat in the water. If it sinks, it's the Speedwell. If it floats, it's the Mayflower.
Repeat steps 1–6 so that each Pilgrim can take home a Mayflower ship and ocean for themselves. (You may want to let them put their own water in the cup once they're home.)
As a class, write an appreciation letter to the Native Americans for all they have done to help the Pilgrims survive their first year.
- Make boats out of different materials (paper, clay, wood, etc.).
- See how many paper clips they can hold before they sink. Graph results.
- Discuss does shape matter? What about the material used?
- Draw conclusions and write a group story about what makes a good boat!
- Can students make a boat that floats?
- Do they understand a what a token of appreciation is?
- Can students build a boat?
- Can they make it float?
- What adjustments do they need to make in order for it to float?
- Can they make the correlation to a sinking boat and change the Speedwell into the Mayflower?