A lesson using The Mayflower Compact as a primary source by Jan Chamberlain, Kathy Martell, and Molly Mullin

Grade 5 Learning Standards

5.8 Identify the links between the political principles and practices developed in ancient Greece and such political institutions and practices as written constitutions and town meetings of the Puritans. (H, C)

5.9 Explain the reasons that the language, political institutions, and political principles of what became the United States of America were largely shaped by English colonists even though other major European nations also explored the New World. (H, C)

A. the relatively small number of colonists who came from other nations besides England
B. long experience with self-government
C. the high rates of literacy and education among the English colonial leaders
D. England’s strong economic, intellectual, and military position

5.14 Explain the development of colonial governments and describe how these developments contributed to the Revolution. (H, G, E, C)

A. legislative bodies
B. town meetings
C. charters on individual freedom and rights


Lesson Plans

Understanding Primary Sources: The Mayflower Compact (Houghton Mifflin) Written for elementary. Students translate the compact and create their own classroom compact. Includes links and worksheet.

Mayflower Compact (Constitutional Rights Foundation) - Written for older students, but offers good background for teachers. Student activity is very interesting - Spaceship Mayflower II is headed to Mars for scientific study. The spaceship crashes in a different location and the scientist and workers fight over who should be in charge. Maybe we could use this model for an activity?

Mayflower Compact Role Play (Montgomery Public Schools) - Students are assigned to play the role of a real Saint or Stranger and act out the signing of the Mayflower Compact. It is suggested to enlarge and reproduce the compact on parchment paper.

Teacher Background

How to Read Old Documents
Scroll to the bottom of page for vocabulary and symbol help.

Mr. Nussbaum’s Plymouth site

Mr. Nussbaum’s Plymouth quiz – historic overview. Includes information and questions about the Mayflower Compact

Pilgrim Penmanship Exercise Having trouble reading those funny letters? This site explains it all.

Mayflower Compact Document

Plimoth Colony

Scholastic Thanksgiving

Print Resources

American Documents: the Mayflower Compact
Judith Lloyd Yero
National Geographic Children's Books, 2006

Mayflower 1620: A new look at a pilgrim voyage
Plimoth Plantation; with Peter Arenstam, John Kemp, and Catherine O’Neill Grace
National Geographic, 2006

The Mayflower Compact
David and Patricia Armentrout
Rourke Publishers, 2005

The Voyage of the Mayflower
Allison Lassieur
Capstone, 2006
(This is from the Graphic Library series - Graphic History)

Video Resource
The Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower (2006)
A&E Home Video, 2007

Interactive Activities

Take the voyage

Mr. Nussbaum: Interactive 13 Colonies- http://www.

Thankgiving WebQuest


Kathleen Martell, Instructional Technology Specialist
Needham Public Schools, Needham MA
July 2007