How to Build the Mayflower for a School Project

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Though most countries have some sort of fall or harvest festival, Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the surviving Pilgrims in 1621. Only about half the passengers who set sail for America aboard the Mayflower in 1620 survived the ocean voyage and the ensuing winter in their new land. Teaching children how to build a model of the Mayflower for a school project will give them insight into this historic event.

The Ship

    Glue a sheet of blue construction paper to the bottom of a large Styrofoam meat tray to make an ocean.

    Fasten two sheets of brown construction paper together in the top corners with paper clips or staples.

    Draw a boat shape lightly with pencil on the brown construction paper and cut it out so that there are two identical boat shapes.

    Draw plank or timber lines on the sides that will be facing out. Write the name of the ship, ”Mayflower,” on each side.

    Glue the sides of the boat shapes together to form the ship part of the Mayflower. Flatten the bottom slightly and glue it to the ”ocean."

The Sails

    Draw two triangle-shaped sails on the white paper.

    Cut out the sails and use the paper punch to make two holes for the drinking straw “mast” to slide through.

    Stick two small lumps of modeling clay in the bottom of the construction paper Mayflower and push the ends of the drinking straw “masts” into the clay so the masts stand upright.

    Draw waves in the ocean, and write the word “Plymouth” on one side of the ocean after the ship has been placed, and the glue has dried.

    Things You'll Need

    • 1 large Styrofoam meat tray
    • Glue stick
    • 1 sheet of blue construction paper
    • 2 sheets of brown construction paper
    • 1 sheet white construction paper or printer paper
    • 2 paper clips or a stapler
    • Pencil
    • Scissors
    • Black marker or crayon
    • 2 long plastic drinking straws
    • Paper punch
    • 2 small lumps of modeling clay


    • Make a template of the shape of the ship out of oak tag or light cardboard for students who have difficulty drawing the shape themselves.


    • Try to get Styrofoam meat trays that have not been used for meat to avoid the possible contact with any leftover bacteria. If this is not possible, wash the trays thoroughly in hot, soapy water before using.

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