Grade VI spent the morning with a visitor from 17th century Plymouth.
For a full hour, a historical interpreter was in character as Susannah Winslow, a pilgrim from England who survived the voyage of the Mayflower to America. She talked about her husband Edward Winslow, which gave the boys quite a chuckle as one of their classmates has the same name.
Before beginning her tale of coming to America, Mistress Winslow taught the boys how to properly greet a lady in the 1600s. They learned to stand up with their right foot slightly in front, toe out to the right and a bended knee. With one hand tilting their pretend hat, they nicely bowed and said, “Good morrow Mistress Winslow.”
Mistress Winslow recounted her decision to leave England and move to America. Her trip on the Mayflower was treacherous to say the least. Susannah and her family eventually settled in Cape Cod and she regaled the boys with tales of the pilgrims’ first interactions with the Native Americans.
Next, the boys learned about traditional pilgrim clothing and one boy, Brandon D., was a good sport and tried on a complete outfit, undershirt and all.
One boy asked about the upcoming 400th anniversary of the Mayflower crossing and our guide surprisingly broke character to fully answer the question. She thoughtfully explained that the events planned next year should commemorate, not necessarily celebrate, the arrival of the pilgrims in America. After all, there were many vibrant cultures that had been in America for hundreds of years, and the English colonization meant an end to their way of life. Her modern accent was a startling contrast to her old English vernacular and the boys had many questions on how she is able to switch back and forth so easily.
The sixth graders were quite well informed on this part of American history, and the pilgrim visit was a nice complement to their work in the classroom. It certainly brought the pilgrim experience to life!