The Mayflower at Cape Cod Review

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We just finished studying British history and are getting ready to move back to American history when we start up the school year again in August. It's always interesting learning from different sources about the first settlers of our country, so even though Rebecca Locklear's eBook,
The Mayflower at Cape Cod - Stories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with life today is intended for a slightly older age range (6th-12th graders) than most of my children, I thought it would be worth a read!

Published to commemorate the 400th anniversary (which will occur in December of this year) of the landing of the Mayflower at Cape Cod, The Mayflower at Cape Cod is a short, cross-disciplinary study with seven units and activities for students from grades 6-12. Much of it seems to be intended for students in a classroom setting, or perhaps a family with many older students who would be capable of doing the multiple group activities together. With just one student in the target age, I let my 10-year-old rising 6th grader read as much as he wanted so that he could pick some activities to do. For some reason he took this to mean that he should read the entire 74-page eBook immediately, so perhaps this would be better used in a co-op or larger class, with the teacher using each unit's chapter as lecture notes, with corresponding activities.

Quite a few of the activities were art-centered, so my anti-drawing eldest balked immediately at any of those. He didn't want to do anything that involved writing, either (though I think it would have been fun to make a list of 100 things to take with him if he were moving out!). He was excited by the recipes, but in a house with no functional air conditioning and summer temperatures, we're doing as little cooking as possible...

Locklear's writing is simple and engaging, and the layout of the book is clear enough to keep a rather distractible 10-year-old's attention. The units are broken up into separate sections with stories and summaries (and sometimes background information and extra vocabulary terms), followed by research topics and activity suggestions with instructions. A chart at the beginning of the book shows what types of activities are included in each of the seven units, so students interested in a particular type of activity know in which unit one can find it.

Discussion questions throughout the book could definitely prompt lively conversations with some students, particularly in Lesson 4, which discusses food and supplies that the Pilgrims stole from the Native Indians. In what situations is it permissible to steal? And should the Pilgrims have perhaps considered that the people to whom that food belonged might need it in order to survive the winter? Instead they took what they found and thanked God for His providence. Perhaps so much of the Native Indian population had been wiped out due to smallpox that they had surplus food. Any discussions we have around the colonization of America are difficult ones.

Finally inspired by the activity for lesson 5 of "Wise Sayings Art," my 10-year-old tried his hand at graphic design and made a computer background of a saying he hears from his grandmother. Though this isn't exactly what she says, it's close, and he learned pretty quickly that graphic design is harder than it looks, and perhaps isn't his forte. He changed the computer background back to a photo of a rose immediately afterwards!

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  1. I know I’m probably operating at an obnoxious level of “awareness” these days but...I’ve never heard the term “Native Indian,” especially not from someone describing themselves. In this case, I wonder why Rebecca didn’t just use the more accurate and specific term Wampanoag?
    Also, I know this text wasn’t perfectly suited to your family in a lot of ways, but Squanto (aka Tisquantum’s) story is something every Catholic homeschooler should learn! He was kidnapped by English explorers traveling with John Smith (yes, the Pocahontas one) and originally taken as a slave to Spain, where Spanish monks freed him since Native slavery was not permitted in Catholic countries. He might have converted to Catholicism before he eventually made his way back to Cape Cod, only to discover that the rest of his tribe had been killed by smallpox. I had always thought of the Pilgrims as landing in this totally uncharted land, but Squanto had already encountered both English and Spanish culture before they arrived!

    1. She used both terms, and explained in the beginning that "Native Indian" is currently the preferred term by the indigenous peoples themselves—I had thought "American Indian" was what we were supposed to say these days, but I am trying to learn!

      We have read about Squanto in previous years and she touched on his story, but I think we will need to read more—I had not realized he had been enslaved! My sister has been telling the kids about the Spanish (particularly the Dominicans) who fought against slavery so early on, though it was sadly not all Catholics who took a stand...

      And it seems that because of the huge smallpox fatalities (as well as the impermanence of many indigenous dwellings), the land seemed far less occupied than it would have? She also mentioned that the Wampanoag and other Native Indians didn't have the same concept of land use and "ownership" as European settlers, so even in the instances where they came to an agreement regarding land, it's highly doubtful that they understood the permanence of the agreement. Very interesting and sad to read about!

  2. I'm part Cherokee (enough to have an Indian card) and live in an area where there are many native Indians. Native Indian is the phrase I have heard most frequently, at least over the more recent years. For a long time, it was just Indian.

  3. Thank you, Lea! That is really helpful to hear :)


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