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The Pilgrim Story Review by Sharon Odor

Mrs. Mary Stauffer
Dayspring Christian Academy
120 College Avenue
Mountville, PA 17554

The Pilgrim Story course is an online resource from Dayspring Christian Academy. It is a well-put-together, self-paced audio history course. These lessons cover the history of the Pilgrims, including their purpose in leaving England, their journey overseas, and their time after arriving in America. It highlights the facts that led to their decision to leave England and the key people who helped make it all possible. Each lesson contains visual slideshows that help the students follow along. The program will not allow students to advance to the next slide until the audio for the current slide is completed. This ensures that the student listens to the lessons. It is perfect for kids ages 9 to 13; even my 5-year-old sat and listened to the material.

We used this as an add-on class in the afternoons. We would gather around the computer and complete the lessons as a family. My oldest would take notes, and my two youngest would listen and answer the questions verbally. At the end of the lesson, the kids would discuss the questions asked during the quiz and agree on the answer they thought was correct. After the lesson, we would print off the material for the next one and see what materials we might need to gather.

There are five units with seventeen lessons spread between them. Unit one is an introduction; the four lessons cover life in England before moving to America. It introduces King Henry's changes that pushed the Pilgrims to make the tough decisions they ultimately made. This unit's activities include building a castle using everyday household items like cardboard and chip cylinders, translating scriptures from the Geneva Bible to the New International Bible, mapping, and reasoning questions. The reasoning questions helped my kids understand what the Pilgrims were struggling with and why they chose to leave the life they knew to create a new one.

Unit Two has four lessons that take us through the preparation for the voyage away from England to Holland and finally to America. The lessons in this unit highlight the struggles during the moves, the failed attempts, and their successes. We learn about why the Pilgrims moved to Holland first and their realization that Holland couldn't be a lasting solution for them. Excerpts from William Bradford, Edward Winslow, and other Pilgrim leaders lend emotional perspective to the difficulties that lead to the Pilgrim's decision to move to America. The matching activity helped my kids to learn about important leaders and members of the Pilgrims and why they were important. Another activity showed the Pilgrims' character and how their beliefs impacted the people they interacted with.

Unit Three is all about the journey from Holland to America. Unit three enlightened my kids on what conditions were like on the ships, what ships they traveled on, and why they chose the ships that they did. These three lessons also cover how the Pilgrims and the ships' crew interacted and how they influenced each other. We built a boat out of an egg carton and used that boat on a printed map to follow the journey of the Mayflower. We printed off the passenger list for the Mayflower and made some recipes, all provided within the lessons, which were typical meals that the Pilgrims had on the Mayflower.

Unit Four leads us through the first winter in America and the Pilgrims' struggles. These three lessons talk about the Mayflower Compact and why they created it. The lessons led us through the Pilgrims' decisions about where to land and start their new life. We are guided through the tough choices they had to make to survive. The reasoning questions for this lesson were thoughtful and made us think hard about how the Pilgrims made the decisions and if we believe we could make the same choices. We created a timeline showing how quickly or slowly things were changing or moving for the Pilgrims. Finally, we created a Pilgrim house from popsicle sticks as we learned about how the Pilgrims built their community.

Unit Five is the final unit, and it covers the spring of 1621 to 1623. We look at how much life has changed in the two years since they moved to America. We learn about how blessed they were to meet the Wampanoag people. God's protection and plans for the Pilgrims led them to an ideal area and a community of Native Americans who recognized that the Pilgrims wanted a peaceful life, and they, in turn, were kind to the Pilgrims. The relationships built between the Pilgrims and Wampanoags led to the Pilgrims' survival.

Unit Five provides instructions for creating a bucket garden and building a wetu, a Wampanoag hut. We are encouraged to skip a meal, as during the first spring, the Pilgrims had to ration their food to help it last until their crops grew. We learned how to play a game the children would play to entertain themselves.

Each lesson is around half an hour and easy to understand. Worksheets are available to be printed out to help the students follow along. Following each lesson is a quick quiz that covers the key points from the lesson they just learned. The quiz questions are related to the lesson they learned. The tests that followed each unit were quick and covered the material learned in the lessons for that unit, which helped ensure the students understood the information they were learning. The Unit Five final test covers all the units and their lessons. While most of the questions are the same as on the quizzes, some are worded differently, which I felt helped ensure that my kids were paying attention. The quizzes and tests are graded automatically. Once we submitted our answers to the quizzes and tests, the grades were final.

Our favorite feature about this course is how Mrs. Stauffer incorporated various activities and options to engage all learning styles. Each lesson and the corresponding activity helped us to understand the Pilgrims' need and desire for such a significant life change. It made us appreciate the life we can live because of their sacrifices and choices. I appreciate that Mrs. Stauffer used authentic sources. It is evident how passionate she is about getting the facts correct.

~Product review by Sharon Odor, The Old Schoolhouse® April 2023