Fourth Graders Head to Plymouth
by David Smelin, FL Grade 4 Teacher
For more than 20 years, fourth graders at Fieldston Lower have traveled to Plymouth, Massachusetts, on an overnight trip. Immersed in the details of the Pilgrim story through readings, writing, role-playing, and discussions, what better way to enhance their learning and knowledge than to give them a hands-on experience at the Plimoth Plantation.
While at Plimoth, "interpreters" dressed in the clothing of 1624, speaking in the dialect of the time, and going about their lives doing chores, cooking, eating, caring for their animals, and fixing their homes are present for the fourth graders to speak to them, ask questions, help them with chores, and listen to stories.
It is an intense day, as we arrive around 1:30 pm and are in the program until 9:00 pm. It includes a colonial dinner that requires students to adhere to the rules and customs of the time; for instance, eating with your hands was perfectly acceptable. Later in the evening, students learn to play colonial games and get to use quill pens for a writing lesson.
On the second day, we go into the city of Plymouth to either board the Mayflower II or visit the Plimoth Grist Mill. All in all, the trip is terrific, both for the learning that the students experience and will use throughout our unit on the Pilgrims and for the experience of the fourth graders having an overnight trip with their classmates.