Wexford Elementary students discover difficulty Pilgrims encountered
By Rachel Farkas
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Being a pilgrim at Plymouth Colony wasn't easy, as some Wexford Elementary third-graders found out the week prior to Thanksgiving.
Five classes of third-graders at Wexford Elementary School dressed up in stereotypical pilgrim garb — black knickers and buckled hats for the boys and ankle-length black dresses with white bonnets for the girls — and went through the annual Pilgrim Simulation.
Teachers said most children that age think of the glorified legend of the first Thanksgiving, rather than the actual history.
“Kids have a lot of misconceptions about pilgrims, so that's why we started this,” said third-grade teacher Patty Perine. “It's not all clean and glorified.”
Perine said they discuss with the students the hardships the pilgrims faced, like not having shelter, easy access to food, medicine or bathrooms.
They've run the simulation the three days prior to Thanksgiving for the past 15 years, Perine said, and it has always been a hit with the students.
“The kids look forward to this every year,” she said.
The simulation takes students from the beginning of the pilgrims' trip, when they were still at home in Holland, to the end, when they made peace with the Native Americans, Perine said. Students work in groups within their classrooms to complete each phase of the simulation.
Throughout the event, teachers read descriptions of the pilgrim's experience and then asked the students questions about it, said third-grade teacher Christopher Vins. They also did activities to simulate things that the pilgrims experienced.
For example, during the students' journey across the ocean, they had to stand with their groups in 3-foot-by-6-foot rectangles taped onto the floor, which represented their ship. If a student stepped out of the rectangle, they “lost a man overboard” from their ship, Vins said.
When the weather got rough on their ocean voyage, students had to work with their teammates to tie three pieces of string into a circle, representing the ability to mend their ship's sails.
At other times throughout the simulation, students would flip a coin to represent fate.
“A lot of it was luck,” Vins said of the pilgrims survival.
The students also wrote journals detailing their experience as if they were 8- and 9-year-old pilgrims going through the journey.
The activity, which took up most of the school day except for math class, wasn't all fun and games.
“It's a lot of work,” Vins said. “It involves team building, listening skills.”
The goal of the simulation is for students to perform better than the original pilgrims throughout their journey nearly 400 years ago. They strive to cross the ocean quick, have a better survival rate, build houses faster and grow more crops than their predecessors.
Most years students perform about on par with the Plymouth pilgrims, Vins said, but they come away with a greater understanding of the origins of the first Thanksgiving.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Giving back part of mission at Oxford Athletic Club
- North Allegheny graduate inspired to help raise funds
- Fox Chapel, neighboring communities hosting platform tennis national championships
- ‘Cool’ visitor waddles to Ross Elementary
- Pine-Richland principal to return to teaching math
- Mad Dash to raise money for St. Paul’s youth mission work
- Pine-Richland students wrap up Shakespeare unit with festival
- Northland to host ‘Meet Our Local Authors’ program
- Hampton to honor Pirates manager, township resident Hurdle
- Shaler North Hills Library jewelry swap to help cover cost for Women of Faith conference
- Shaler Area Middle School gears up for musical