DCMC teacher Mrs. Caroline Schneck is leading her 8th-grade History students in a study of American roots–in particular, those that serve as the foundation to American values and culture. She is also helping her students understand the lasting effects of Puritanism in America. The lesson began with a random pairing of students. One paired, these groups had to “board” the Mayflower and ultimately “land” in Plymouth together. They then drafted their own “Mayflower Compact” and governed themselves accordingly. During just two class periods, the students also raced to see who could build the most sturdy Puritan home. To accurately construct homes like those built in the winter of 1620, the students followed period techniques that described the use of reeds, sticks, clay, and string

“The students went outside to get the bulk of their materials,” said Mrs. Schneck. “On Monday, we will test their sturdiness when we create a ‘blizzard’ using a fan and a spray bottle. The ‘colonists’ whose house is most realistically built–and sturdy–will get the lunch of their choice on Tuesday.”

In addition to learning about the culture, values, and construction methods of the Puritans, students learned, through a simple kernel of corn, how God provided life for these first settlers. Through His divine design, the students saw first-hand how live corn can be germinated from dried up kernels. Once corn sprouts appeared, the students planted the seedlings in a communal garden that resides in Mrs. Schneck’s classroom.

At the conclusion of the unit, students will be asked to reflect on the work ethic of all group members and determine what kind of effect this had on their products. From their analysis, students will discover how and why privatization became a core American value established by those first Plymouth settlers.