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Mayflower Compact

Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 5th Grade
Standard 1 Objective 3

Time Frame

5 class periods of 45 minutes each


Marty Austin
Karole Pickett
Melissa Voorhees


After analyzing the Mayflower Compact students will use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast Colony Constitutions.

Enduring Understanding: Students will analyze and compare how the exploration and colonization of North America transformed human history.

Essential Question:

  • What is being promised in the document and by whom?
  • What conflicts were the writers and signers anticipating when they drew up the Mayflower Compact.


Post a Picture of the Mayflower Compact for students to look at during the activity (see attachments)

Background for Teachers

The Mayflower Compact was written because the "Mayflower" landed in a part of North America where English law had no jurisdiction. This simple set of laws guided the settlers well until their society became complex enough to need additional guidelines. Before passengers were allowed to leave the Mayflower, all of the men had to sign an agreement known as the Mayflower Compact--the first civil document of New Plymouth. The United States did not have a president for eleven years after this time. Members of the Continental Congress needed to create some form of government, so in 1781 they wrote the Articles of Confederation. There was no president, and the states had more power than the national government.

Student Prior Knowledge

Have students go to Scholastic web site to become familiar with the voyage of the Mayflower. Then the teacher will read outloud the Mayflower Compact(see materials for web site links).

Instructional Procedures



Day 1 - Have students pair in 2 or 3 and analyze the compact word for word. Hand out dictionaries in case certain words need to be defined. Have students complete the worksheet.

Day 2 - have groups of students (4-5) look at websites and choose a colony constitution. Then students need to become an expert by completing a Venn Diagram then using their information to compare and contrast state constitutions with other groups.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

Have students draw a political cartoon version of the state laws and what they mean in a 5 frame picture.


Do the readers theater "Unite or Die" and follow up with how difficult it must have been for colonies to agree on laws. Also listed are primary source documents to show and have the students become familiar with original documents.

Assessment Plan


Use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast Colony Constitutions.


Created: 06/26/2009
Updated: 02/05/2018