Last week, several homeschooling families made the trek down to Plymouth, MA to see the living history museum at Plimoth Plantation. For those unfamiliar, Plimoth Plantation is a recreation of a pilgrim village taking place just a few years after the Mayflower landed at Plimoth Rock. The villiage is inhabited by actors who are part of the 17th century and take their roles very seriously. They talk politics, share insight to their daily life, discuss villiage goings-on, and will answer any questions you throw at them. I was very impressed with how casually they reacted to the diverse questions from the crowd.
From our interaction with the Plimoth “residents,” we learned about the voyage from England, the many deaths experienced by the travelers, the struggles of that first winter, the things brought over years later on supply ships, the clothes worn, the jobs worked, and the obstacles overcome. It was so much fun.
Also at Plimoth Plantation you’ll find a Wampanoag homesite where descendants of native tribes dress in traditional attire, and teach visitors about the Wampanoag tribe during the 17th century. These are not actors, and talk freely about the comparisons of modern day.
Our group planned an overnight and I am so glad we did because there is so much to see. Even though we ended up spending about 24 hours at Plimoth Plantation we still did not do it all! When you plan an overnight you choose between a “Pilgrim Experience,” or a “Wampanoag Experience.” Having chose the latter, we were treated to a meal of venison stew, turkey, nassump (a delicious blend of grit-like corn meal and cranberry,) Corn bread, and tea. Like the Wampanoag people, we ate with our hands!
After dinner we headed out to spend quite a bit of time in the wetu, or house, of the Wampanoag family.
Our guide, Tim, taught us all about the people of the tribe, their homes and crafts, their roles, their families, and their customs. I found it very interesting and could have listened to him for another hour but the fire, darkness, and soft deerskins were putting the kids to sleep so off we went to see some tools and weapons and learn about how they were made and used. After that the kids heard a traditional legend and learned to make a corn husk doll.
The sleeping was rough and I don’t think anybody in our group slept very well, but we survived the night and in the morning we got to visit the Grist Mill, which is about 5 miles away from the plantation.
This was far more exciting than I expected! It was fascinating to learn how simple machines were used in combination to grind large amounts of corn into sump, meal, and flour. In the lower level of the mill there are many activities for kids that demonstrate how the mill works and why it mattered.
After the Grist Mill we headed back to Plimoth Plantation for one more quick walk through before heading home. I was excited to get to see a canoe, or, mishoon demonstration. The Wampanoag created canoes by burning out trees, and it was neat to watch.
This trip was wonderful through and through and we can’t wait to go back! Our next trip we will choose the Pilgrim Experience and hopefully the Mayflower II will be fully restored and back at her post where we can climb aboard and travel back in time once more!