The Story of the Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving for Children: History for Kids – FreeSchool


You’re watching FreeSchool! After trade and communication between Europe
and the Americas began following Columbus’s voyage in 1492, many Europeans began to seek
opportunities in the New World. One such group, now known as the Pilgrims, sailed from England
to North America in 1620. Some of them wanted to sail to America because they thought they
could make money there. Some of them were looking for greater religious freedoms. They
all thought that a new life in a new land could give them what they were looking for. In the summer of 1620, a ship called the Mayflower
as well as a second ship called the Speedwell set sail from England towards the Americas.
Shortly after their journey began, however, the Speedwell sprang a leak and they had to
stop to make repairs. They set sail again, but they had only traveled a few hundred miles
from England when the Speedwell began leaking again, forcing both ships to return to Plymouth. By then it was September, and the Pilgrims
decided to abandon the Speedwell. Some of the Speedwell’s passengers moved onto the
Mayflower, and some decided to stay in England. On September 6, 1620, the Mayflower set sail
a third time for the Americas. Around 130 people were crammed onto the small
Mayflower: about 100 were passengers, 70 adults and 30 children. The rest were the ship’s
crew. There were animals on board the Mayflower as well – pigs, goats, chickens, and even
some pet dogs. The ship was only 106 feet or 32 meters long and 25 feet or 7 and a half
meters wide, so the voyage was extremely crowded. When the weather was bad, the passengers had
to stay below deck while the ship rocked and tilted in the waves. Many people were sick
for the entire trip. Two people died, and one baby was born while they crossed the ocean.
For those who were well, it must have been a long and boring journey. Some passengers
read books or played card games, but by the time they arrived in the New World they must
have been very glad for the voyage to end. Land was sighted on November 9th, but there
was a problem: they had landed too far north! The original destination of the Mayflower
was supposed to be Virginia, but storms and rough seas had blown them off course so they
had landed at what is now Massachusetts. They tried to sail south, but by now the winter
weather had made the seas stormy, and so they decided to stay, and anchored in the harbor
at Cape Cod on November 11th. They looked around for a good place to settle, and by
December they had moved to a place they named Plymouth. The first winter in the New World was a terrible
one for the passengers of the Mayflower. They were not prepared for the cold weather. They
did not have enough food. Terrible sickness came. By the time the spring of 1621 came,
only about half of the passengers and crew were still alive. In April, the Mayflower and her crew returned
to England, leaving the Pilgrims to try and survive alone. They might all have died that
year if it were not for help they received from the Native Americans that lived in their
area. One man in particular, named Squanto, taught the English settlers many things that
they needed to know. He taught them how to plant corn, how to fish, and how to live in
their new home. He knew how to speak English, and helped interpret for the settlers and
the Wampanoag tribe so they could speak to each other. That fall, there was a good harvest and plenty
of food. The Pilgrims had a celebration that lasted for three days, and they invited their
new friends the Wampanoags to celebrate with them. This feast is often called, ‘The First
Thanksgiving.’ I hope you enjoyed learning the story of the
Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving today. Goodbye till next time!

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