Mayflower Lesson for Kids: History & Facts

Instructor: Jeremy Cook

I have been teaching elementary school for 16 years. I have extensive experience in lesson and curriculum development and educational technology.

Have you ever sat down for a huge Thanksgiving dinner and wondered how this tradition began? In this lesson, we'll learn about the Mayflower, the boat that Pilgrims traveled to America on.

What Was the Mayflower?

They Mayflower was the ship that brought the English across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World in 1620. The English who traveled and settled here are called Pilgrims, and they left England so they could freely practice their religion, Separatism.

The Mayflower was a sailing merchant ship and, considering how far the voyage was, it wasn't very big. The ship only measured 100 feet long and 23 feet wide, and more than 130 people, including passengers and crew, crammed onto the vessel. The ship had three masts that held the sails, which captured the wind to make the boat move. Remember that there weren't motors back then, so the speed of the voyage was determined by the wind!

Painting depicting the Mayflower
Mayflower Painting

Layout of the Mayflower

The ship was divided into several different sections, and each section served a different purpose. The bottom on the boat was called the cargo hold. The cargo hold is where all the supplies and gear was stored. Above the cargo hold were the between decks, the decks where the 102 passengers lived and slept. Remember that conditions were extremely tight. The ceilings in the between decks were so low that anyone taller than 5 feet would have to hunch over at all times.

This painting gives an idea of how cramped it was in the between decks.
Below Deck

There was a small area near the front of the ship called the forecastle, and that's where the meals were cooked and served. There was also a cabin at the back of the ship where about 30 crew members slept.

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