The Puritans wanted to purify their nation's church, the Anglican Church, or Church of England.
To the Puritans of the 17th Century, the new Church of England was too much like the Roman Catholic Church they had broken away from during the Reformation. They also saw corruption in the leadership and immoral living. To the Puritans, obedience to the Lord Jesus was the most important thing. Their ideas of freedom would fuel the independent spirit and love of liberty in America.
John Winthrop (1588-1649), a devoted Puritan, left England in 1630 to create a godly commonwealth in the New World. John had a beautiful vision of a colony completely centered around Jesus and His Word, a City on a Hill.
A wealthy Puritan lawyer, he was creative in his financing and founding of the colony. First of all, the New England Company was granted land between the Charles and Merrimack Rivers. A year later, this company received a royal charter and a name change: Massachusetts Bay Company. The group of Puritans who were moving to the New World became stockholders and bought up all the stock. You had to be going to the New World to own stock. So the Massachusetts Bay Colony was the only colony in the New World that was not subject to a board of trustees or governors back in England. Isn’t that neat? In 1630, John led a group of settlers to the mouth of the Charles River—Boston was born!
Before boarding the ships, Puritan Pastor John Cotton preached to the departing folks. His sermon, "God's Promise to His Plantation," urged the departing Puritans to be a shining light in the New World, preach the Gospel to the Native Americans, obey the Lord, make the Lord their strong tower, and enjoy the blessings of God who has sovereignly led them to settle in a new land.
Eleven ships sailed from England with their flagship Arabella in the lead. These ships carried almost 1,000 Puritans along with livestock, possessions, supplies, and food.
What Puritans Believed
The pilgrims gave us Thanksgiving and the Mayflower Compact. That in itself is enough, but they also modeled for us courage to stand on our convictions, no matter the price. Risking life and limb, they traveled to the New World and, as they say, the rest is history. Did you know that the pilgrims on the Mayflower were actually a local church from Scrooby, England?
I am writing this in November with Thanksgiving right around the corner. Planning Thanksgiving menus, trying out some new recipes, and pulling out the special Thanksgiving tablecloth are all things that will happen this week. It's the time of year where everyone talks about pilgrims.
Most people don't even know who the pilgrims are and some people think that know who they are, but have their facts confused.
I thought it would be fun to talk about the pilgrims today. Maybe you have never heard their whole story. I hope I will whet your appetite today to learn more about the pilgrims.
In 1517, when Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis on the Whittenburg Door, the truth of salvation by grace through faith, not works, was rediscovered. The Reformation had begun! These old truths spread like wildfire through northern Europe and made their way to England. As some people studied the Word of God now available to read in English, they felt conviction to worship God in a more simple way, to elect their church leaders, and to live a simple, pure life. This group of people were know as Separatists because they felt they could not worship in the Church of England because of the pomp, ceremony, and fallen lifestyle of some of the church leaders and members so they separated. They formed their own congregation, meeting in Scrooby Manor, the home of William Brewster.
Hiding Out in Sherwood Forest Like Robin Hood
We are studying American history this year in homeschool co-op.
The week we learned about Jamestown, we decided to build the settlement out of pretzels and cereal.
Would you like to see what we did?
I will take you step by step through our process.
But first, true confessions. Our fort walls looked awesome but they didn't stand up on their own. Next time, Laura and I decided that we will bake a dense cake to stick the fort walls into so that we have a nice sturdy perimeter.
Aside from that, everything was perfect. We had such a great time creating the buildings and the fort.
We used pretzel sticks to make the log buildings, pretzel logs to make the walls, cheese crackers for windows and doors, and frosted mini-wheats for the ceilings. We used royal icing for glue, making everything edible.
Ready for a whirlwind tour? Here we go.
Remember that history can we fun! We certainly experienced that fun making our edible Jamestown fort.
Captain John Smith looked dashing in a white shirt, maroon tunic, and purple cape. Pocahontas was lovely herself in a deer skin dress. Okay, it wasn't real deer skin.
It was American History Homeschool Co-op day. We had finished reviewing the Renaissance and Reformation. We had finished learning about the Native Americans and the Spanish explorers. Now, it is was time to learn about Jamestown.
We decided to add some drama to the day by acting out the story of Princess Pocahontas saving Captain John Smith's life.
The week before, we had made Native American vests and headdresses. The children put them on to become members of Powhatan's tribe.
The director, homeschool Mom Molly, read up on the story an reminded the children of the story before they started planning the drama.
What is great way to eat popcorn, curl up with a pillow, and do school at the same time?
Watch a movie. Movies can enrich our homeschooling experience! Movies are fun!
Our first experience with using movies for school was Gidget Goes Hawaiian when we did a unit study on Hawaii. Since then, we have expanded to including monthly movies for history and geography.
Different scenes come to my mind from movies I've seen over the years. My idea of the Sahara desert comes from watching movies where the hero is trekking across the Sahara. The image I have of a Middle Eastern Bazaar comes from watching Indiana Jones. So many movies I've seen are set in New York City that I feel like I know that city though I've only been there three times in my life. Likewise, the Anne movies make me feel that Prince Edward Island is my second home. Movies draw you in and if they do a good job of making ancient, or more modern times, come alive, they will benefit your children.
In our house, we often start our study of a time period by working on a timeline while we watch a movie. When we studied the 20th Century decade by decade, we would work on a timeline and watch a movie.
As we pasted photos of President Wilson, Russia's Stalin, and Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm, we watched the exciting story of Sergeant York, a godly hero of World War I. Our next step was to learn about the Balkans, the step-by-step unfolding of World War I, the War to End All Wars, heroes like Nurse Cavell, and dog fighting. For us, it's been a fun way to introduce a new season of study.
Other times, we have used movies as a treat when we finish a unit study.
Whether we watch movies in the beginning, middle, or end of a history study, movies are a hit in our house!
Here are some of our favorites.
I thought I'd have to rent a pickup and drive out into the Texas desert to see the Alamo. But no. The little Spanish mission was surrounded by big city buildings. The Alamo is smack dab in the middle of San Antonio, Texas.
Shine and I were in Texas for a Christian Film Festival and we had a day to sightsee. We both decided to spend the morning at the Alamo and lunch at a restaurant on the San Antonio River Walk.
Though we arrived at the Alamo early in the morning before 8 a.m., there was already a long line of visitors who wanted to explore the eighteenth century Spanish fort and museum.
It was an emotional experience for both of us, visiting the church and touring the grounds. We were amazed by the bravery of those soldiers who defended the fort down to the very end and saddened by the young lives that were lost: Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Travis. So many brave men and women, so many heroic tales.
The Alamo is not only the setting of an inspirational story from the past, it is also a lovely little church with gardens. It is a beautiful example of Spanish mission architecture.
Pike's Peak is one tall mountain!
My daughter Julianna was taking a semester off work to attend Ellerslie, a Bible college out in Colorado. I decided to fly out with her a few days early so we could see a little of Colorado.
"Let's go to Pike's Peak!" she suggested.
"Hiking?" I asked, shuddering inside. People do hike up and down Pike's Peak, you know.
"No, not hiking," she laughed. "They have a little railroad."
Little railroad, as in tiny railroad, tiny tracks, and big tall mountain?
I was nervous, so I went online to research and discovered:
The 20th Century is an exciting time in history to study! As a family, we decided to dig in and learn about this fabulous century and we had a blast doing it!
At the Turn of the Century, the automobile was brand-new and man was learning to fly a simple plane. By the end of the century man had stepped on the moon and had stations in space.
So many new inventions changed life as we know it: insulin, rockets, radar, lasers, GPS, computers, plastic, and vaccinations are just a few. Can you imagine life with out plastic?
Most people lived on farms in the early 1900s, but by the end of the century, most people lived in cities and there were hundreds of cities around the world with over 1 million people in them.
At the beginning of the century, vast empires ruled over large portions of the world including the Ottoman Empire, Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Russia, British Empire, and the Dutch Empire. After World War I, two of those empires fell and many new nations were created like Poland, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Estonia, and Finland. The Middle East, once part of the Ottoman Empire, was divided into territories and later into nations: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine (later divided into Jordan and Israel). So many changes.
There are so many exciting people to learn about from political leaders like Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill to authors like G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, from missionaries like Gladys Aylward and Jim Elliot to heroes like Douglas MacArthur and Edith Cavell, and from businessmen like Henry Ford and Sam Walton to athletes like Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.
When we decided to study 20th Century World History, I went searching for the stories. You can read those stories all together in HIS Story of the 20th Century. But, we didn't want to stop with the stories, we wanted to dig into the culture of the 20th Century.
History Labs & Movies
"So what differences do you notice in these TV shows?" I asked my children.
We had just watch six TV shows back to back: Make Room for Daddy, Leave it to Beaver, Dick Van Dyke, Brady Bunch, Family Ties, and Home Improvement.
"In the older shows, they were so polite to each other, but as time went on they became rude to each other."
I was shocked. I was expecting them to notice rebellion to parents or fashion or hair styles. Out of the mouth of babes.
We were studying the 20th Century and watching TV shows back to back from different decades in chronological order as our history lab for the week.
While I wanted to show something to the children, I learned a valuable lesson myself: TV shows can be a great way to travel back in time in history class!
Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy made their debut in 1915 and three years later starred in their own book. Created to look like an old-fashioned rag doll, the toy was an instant success, a reminder of the good old days when the world was turned upside-down by World War I.
Barbie was introduced to the world in 1959, named after the daughter of Ruth and Elliot Handler. She was tall and glamorous, fascinating little girls' hearts everywhere who bought clothes, houses, and campers. Ken, named about Ruth's son, joined Barbie in 1961. I remember playing Barbies with the neighborhood girls in the 1960's.
When we studied the 20th Century, we played with Raggedy Ann during our 1910's study and Barbie and Ken for the 1960's. For boys, G.I. Joe Action Figures were marketed in 1964. I often used friend's brother's G.I. Joe as an extra Ken doll. G.I. Joe is a soldier with very cool weapons and vehicles. Boys love to play with them, but don't call them dolls--they are action figures.
One thing that's fun with Barbie dolls is to see how fashions changed during the second half of the 20th Century.
Even today, 100 years later, you can still purchase Raggedy Ann dolls and Barbies for little girls.
Dolls go all the way back to the beginning of history. Adam probably made dolls for his daughters. Paddle Dolls were found in Ancient Egypt archaeological digs. The Ancient Romans used clay, wood, ivory, or rags to create dolls for their children to play with.
Pioneers and Native Americans made dolls from dried apples or corn husks. During the nineteenth century porcelain dolls became popular. Paper dolls made a comeback too in the Victorian Age. Paper dolls have been popular at various times in history.
In our house we believe history should be fun!
One way we love to learn about the past is by playing games together. Historical games, that is.
Chess is a great way to learn about the Middle Ages. The knights role in the game of chess is to protect the more important pieces on the board like the king and queen. That's the way it was in the Middle Ages. Back in the days of knights and castles, the knights protected royalty and high church officials.
How many of you remember a beloved Teddy Bear from your childhood? What's the history behind the cuddly stuffed animal? Well, it all started back in the first decade of the 20th Century. President Teddy Roosevelt was out hunting and happened upon a cute bear cub which he refused to shoot. It was a popular story at the time! Everyone loved that bold, courageous Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill a little bear. Soon, there were little Teddy's Bear Cubs being sold to children. We know them today as teddy bears.
The game we call checkers ("Draughts" in Europe) can be traced all the way back to the Fertile Crescent in Ur where archaeologists unearthed a similar game in one of their digs. Of course, we play checkers when we are studying American history, too.
When you teach history, don't just expect your children to memorize facts.
Become investigators together and solve the history mystery.
When did it take place?
Who was involved?
Where did it happen?
Why on earth did it happen?
It all starts with curiosity and a sense of adventure. I will often start with an interesting story like this...
A royal couple was visiting a city in their realm on their anniversary. They were very much in love. But, they had enemies. Those enemies tried to kill them as they were on the way to big get-together. The enemies tried to bomb their car, but instead of hitting them, they hit people in the car behind them. After returning home to rest, the royal couple decided to go visit the folks that had been shot. They felt so sad they were hurt. On the way to the hospital, they were forced to take a detour into a side road. While they were trapped, a gunman shot both of them. They reached out to hold one another. The handsome Duke said to his beautiful wife, "Live, darling, for the children." I am so sorry to tell you that they both died. And that's how World War I began.
Now, I have made it personal and gotten my children's interest. What's next?
500 years ago on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Whittenberg Door. He was protesting some of the things church leaders were doing in his day like selling forgiveness and elevating human traditions above the Word of God.
You see, Martin Luther tried desperately to do enough to be right with God. He struggled with guilt and agonized over his standing before God. One day, while studying the Scriptures, he came across this phrase: "The Just Shall Live By Faith." It changed his life! He realized that Christ had done it all! He just had to receive grace and forgiveness! Wow!
Once he understood this truth, he just had to speak out!
You see, the Roman Catholic Church was in a terrible state. It's hard for us to imagine because the Roman Catholic Church today is not in the same place. In those days, men could buy an office in the church so many non-Christians were in important posts. But even then, many godly men and women were serving in the church as priests, abbots, nuns, and monks. Their hearts were grieved.
The Reformers (Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale) were all members of the Roman Catholic Church. They did not want to live it; they wanted mess cleaned up. Unfortunately, the clean-up did not come in time and now we have many denominations today.
However, we can look back to the Reformation and be grateful for the return to biblical teaching on Salvation, Grace, Faith, and the Authority of Scripture. The Reformation brought us the Five Solas.
The Five Solas
History is fascinating! What fun to explore other time periods, meet exciting people, and watch historic events unfold.
Immersion is a great way to learn and remember history. Simply immerse yourself in the time period by listening to the music, tasting the food, looking at the art, creating some of the crafts, and digging deeper into the people who made things happen, the places where they happened, and the events that did happen.
History immersion is made quite easy with history labs. We added history labs to our historical studies years ago, inspired by Diana Waring.
As a homeschool mom, my goal was to "travel back in time" for a visit. We cooked, baked, crafted, created, and enjoyed all kinds of things from whatever time period we studied. Studying pre-American Hawaii, we made a paper mache volcano and hosted a luau. Investigating Ancient Rome, we dressed in Togas, ate lying down, and had a Roman slave sale. Learning about Archaeology, we had our own archaeological dig after we created the different artifacts for each different layers of our tell.
When I was asked to teach history at a homeschool co-op, I decided to have discussion time followed by history labs. The children read at home and we discussed the time period together in a relaxed way, often laughing and doing some "imagine if" kind of thinking. The labs became an instant hit, so I kept doing them. Soon, I realized that the best part was that for most history labs, all ages could do the lab together. I loved that! We loved learning together as a family.
I'm not sure which we love more about history: historical literature or history labs. Let me tell you a little about history labs you can do in your homeschool or homeschool co-op.
History is exciting!
History is full of drama, intrigue, and stories.
Studying history is important to know the past, to understand our heritage, so we can plan for the future.
It breaks my heart to see some children and teens learn history in a dry, dreary way so that they end up hating the subject.
How we teach history can often determine if our students will enjoy learning about the past.
My children all love history! I think it's because we had so much fun learning history together.
Let me share how we learn history the fun way!
Travel Back in Time