Plimoth Plantation
Homeschool Day

Living history. Special Savings. Family fun. All this and more, make Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day, a perfect opportunity to travel back in time and experience life in 1620.

A week ago, the kids and I finally took a field trip to a destination we have always wanted to visit. What homeschooler hasn't read, and read, and read some more, about the Pilgrims sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower - the hardships they endured, their quest for freedom, their joy at sighting land, and then finally arriving at Plymouth Rock, in 1620?!

When we first started homeschooling, my two oldest girls and I got "stuck" in the Early American time-period; we literally "beat" the subject to death. Have you ever done that? Studied every little aspect of a subject because you're scared that you're going to miss something?

Anyway, it was perfect timing for us to attend Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day. We have been (once again) studying Early American history with our two youngest, and just finished a unit on the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies.

Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day

The Day Begins

One thing I love about living in New England, is the fact that we are so close to so many historical sites. Since moving to NH, our family has taken time to visit some of the many places in the Northeast that we have read and learned about. Not only is New England a beautiful place to live, it is filled with so much history just a short drive away.

Anyway, our day started around 6:30am, with our rain gear and umbrellas in case it rained, and a picnic lunch, to minimize our eating out costs.

When we arrived at Plymouth, MA, our first destination was the Mayflower ll, where you can walk aboard a replica of the actual ship the Pilgrims sailed on. I figured it would be fun to experience the exhibits in the way the Pilgrims would have:

  1. The Mayflower Voyage 
  2. Plimoth Rock Landing 
  3. Plimoth Plantation

A nice money-saving perk for Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day, is the special discount you will receive on admission. A Heritage Pass which allows you to tour the Mayflower, Grist Mill, and Plimoth Plantation, is discounted.

Adult Regular Admission: $35     Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day: $25
Child Regular Admission: $21      Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day: $15

The Mayflower ll

We enjoyed touring the Mayflower and wondering what it must have been like for 102 people, with their belongings, food, and animals to journey across the ocean in such a small, contained space. When you see the size of the ship, it's really hard to fathom how they fit everything on, including an additional boat, called a shallop, that was stored ON the Mayflower, as well! 

This boat (shallop) was also stored on the Mayflower!

Aboard the ship, there were a couple re-enactors that told stories and answered any questions our kids had. All played the part well.

A few things that impacted us:

  • The size of the Mayflower - it was very small.
  • The size of the captain's quarters, compared to the Pilgrims'.
  • Seeing where the animals were kept, in relation to the people.

Next, one of the guides directed us to the place where the Pilgrims went to get their fresh water. The river (Town Brook) runs through a pretty memorial garden, called Brewster Gardens. On our way to the garden, we passed Plimoth Rock, statues of William Bradford, Massasoit, and a large memorial for the Pilgrims who died during the first year.

Plimoth Grist Mill

After a 5-10 minute walk along the river, you will arrive at Plimoth Grist Mill - a replica of the corn-grinding mill the Pilgrims built in 1636. We found the tour guides helpful and knowledgeable; they engaged my children, asking them different questions to help them learn how the mill worked. We just finished a unit on Simple Machines, which was perfect, as the mill had lots of examples of the machines the kids had studied.

A replica of the corn-grinding mill the Pilgrims built in 1636.

My two youngest totally enjoyed the mini water wheel in the hands-on area; they poured water over and over again to make it turn. They also loved grinding and sifting the corn. Although, I'm not sure they would've found it so fun if they had lived in 1620 and had to grind corn daily, for the family. :)

Once we were done, we walked back to our car and headed to Plimoth Plantation, just a few miles away.

A note on parking: There's metered parking all along the ocean (Water Street) where the Mayflower ll is located, as well as on many side streets. We parked downtown where you will find free two-hour parking on Court Street (3A). It took us just over two hours to tour the Mayflower, and Plimoth Grist Mill, although we cut our time short at the mill, (to my kids disappointment) to make it back to the car in time.

Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day?

Upon entering the parking area of Plimoth Plantation, I noticed quite a few very large charter buses, as well as school buses in the parking lot. Although I thought it was odd for a homeschool day event, I didn't think much of it until later. I looked around for the typical homeschooler-type vehicles = mini-vans, full-size vans, and large SUVs. To my surprise, there were very few in the parking lot. I thought, "Maybe homeschoolers on the east coast don't have as many kids as homeschoolers in the midwest, and drive smaller cars."

As we walked up to the Visitor's Center, we saw oodles and oodles of school kids lining up outside the Center - 163 to be exact (I overheard the group leader tell the women at the ticket counter that he had 163 kids with him.) Needless to say, we spent the remaining time at Plimoth Plantation dodging this very large group of middle schoolers. There were other school groups as well, but this one, in particular, went through as a "mob".

During our time at Plimoth Plantation, we saw but a few families - maybe five or so. I can't tell you how surprised I was that more homeschooling families weren't at Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day. Perhaps it wasn't well advertised? Or, perhaps others who have gone to Plimoth Plantation Homeschool day in previous years, had the same (and a little disheartening) experience as us... I'm not sure.

At any rate, we made the most of the afternoon. We tried to avoid this large group, with no luck, and finally waited for them to leave. We spent quite some time in the community meeting house/tower, looking over the plantation and out at the ocean. What a gorgeous view of the ocean! 

Oceanview from the Community Meeting House/Tower.

Once the large school groups left the village area, we finished our tour.

It was fun to listen to the re-enactors speak the Old English. We got a kick out of the words, brother, which they said, "brover" and feathers, which they said, "feavers". 

I guess at one point, my seven year old son got tired of listening to the women in one of the houses; we found him outside having a "manly" conversation about guns with this guy...

Each villager was very engaging, informative, and answered a myriad of questions from us, as well as other visitors. Some allowed my kids to help them at the different tasks they were doing.

Bringing in the bedding.

Some things we found interesting:

  • Old English sayings and words.
  • My kids asked about and learned some new Billington Boys stories.
  • I couldn't get over that they slept on the dirt floor of their homes.
  • Their bed was, by far, the most expensive item in their house.

As we were leaving, we met a guy who was working in the field. They had planted corn the day before, and yes, they still use fish in the planting process. He was preparing to plant tobacco and would have asked us to help him, but it had started raining.

The Wampanoag Village

Part of the living museum, also includes a Wampanoag Village, where your kids will experience the life of an Wampanoag Indian. You can walk through their summer and winter homes, watch them cook meals, and craft different items. We watched a woman weave a basket and also saw (from a distance) the burning of a huge tree into a canoe.

Wampanoag Toys

We finished our tour by visiting the Nye Barn, where you will see some rare breed animals.

Nye Barn

Despite the over-abundance of school groups and lack of homeschoolers at Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day, we enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot. The experience enriched our Early American studies, and gave us a greater appreciation for those who first settled in America. We were very appreciative of the Plimoth Plantation Homeschool Day discount as well. If you would like to become a member, homeschoolers receive 20% off a yearly membership.

P.S. Here is the link to the free Simple Machines Lapbook pdf, my children completed before going on our field trip to the Plimoth Grist Mill. Click here. Enjoy! :)

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