This past Thanksgiving, I put together a quick little Sunday School lesson on the Pilgrims.  I wanted to save my notes out here in case it helps anyone.  At least maybe the links below will give you some good places to look.  Elaine Hansen Cleary’s Mayflower was the most help in imagining and understanding the Pilgrim’s story.

Key Verse

The main key verse that stood out to me was:

I Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

The important part there is “in every thing”.  The pilgrims went through a lot before they got to the famous meal that we all celebrate.  If you really take the time to imagine all they went through in their journey and suffering, you’ll understand that they had a lot they could have been complaining about instead.


Maybe it was because I found the song listed in the Sunday School Center’s material, but “Praise Him, Praise Him” stood out to me as a good song to sing with the kids.  My son really likes that song, so I thought it a good fit.  I found Guitar Chords.

Holland First

One thing that stood out to me was the fact that they went to Holland first before traveling to the Americas.  We tend to focus just on their trip to the Americas and forget that they tried to go to Holland first.

The reason they cited for leaving Holland was the affect it was having on their kids.  Since I have gone through the book of Judges with the kids, I found it a stark contrast with the Israelites.  God told the Israelites to not forget Him and to teach the kids about Him.  You can see the cycle in Judges how they did not follow those directions and how it cost them.  On the other hand, the Pilgrims went to the extreme of relocating their families to make sure that their kids would come to know and follow the Lord.


Scrooby is a fun name to use to introduce the story.  That’s the city where the Pilgrims originated.  All the kids knew the story of the Pilgrims, but telling them a story about some people who lived in a place called Scrooby caught their attention while they tried to figure out what this new Thanksgiving story was.

Also, Cleary explained quite nicely about the word Pilgrim:

The group we call “Pilgrims” actually called themselves “Saints.”  Everyone else called them “Separatists” because they had separated from the king’s church.  Many years later one of their leaders referred to them as Pilgrims because they were on a long religion-related journey.  The other passengers who joined them were still members of the Church of England.  The Pilgrims called them “Strangers.”

To help imagine it better, I tried to call the Pilgrims Saints instead as I told the story.

My Outline

Scrooby, England – farmers persecuted

  • disagreed with extra stuff in church added
  • started their own churches
  • higher taxes
  • insults

Went to Holland

  • Could worship the way they wanted
  • Had trouble finding jobs
  • Children influenced by world


  • Heard about colony: Virginia
  • dangerous
  • 66 days = 2 ½ months
  • damp, smelly, rats, dark
  • some seasick for the whole trip
  • prayed a lot; Sunday services lasted all day
  • Oceanus born
  • kids: no running on deck – I spy was a favorite game


  • Expected Virginia – instead Cape Cod, Massachusets
  • Had to make their own laws – Mayflower compact
  • Snowed; they all got sick
  • Had to live on the ship while the men worked on land
  • Second baby (Peregrine) was born
  • Over ½ died


  • Samoset and Squanto helped
  • Samoset learned English from fishermen who had visited
  • Squanto had visited England with traders
  • Squanto’s tribe and died from sickness and was living with Samoset’s tribe
  • Squanto taught them how to survive (plant corn etc)

1st Summer

  • No one died
  • No one hungry
  • had a celebration



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