I am always trying to find ways to make math more exciting. One way I’ve had success with this is to mix math with a subjects we really love, like history and geography. The Mayflower activities below are fun and teach math and history at the same time, making it more engaging.
The other thing I try is, to involve movement. My kinesthetic learner loves this and it makes it easier to include my kindergartener in the fun. And, let’s face it what kid doesn’t want to wiggle a little while they do their schoolwork?
These activities are great for kids in K-5th grade as an introduction or review to several math concepts. I included a sort of how-to regular version of this activity that I did with my elementary aged child and then a modified version that I did with my kindergartener.
This activity is also a great way to learn some historical facts in a fun way, whether your kids need the math review or not
Mayflower Math Facts
Before doing our measuring I gave my kids this sheet of fun Mayflower Math Facts. It is a poster page of numbers related to the Mayflower.
Scroll to the end of the post to download a copy of Mayflower Math Facts & the recording sheets for the Mayflower Measurement activities.
Mayflower Math Facts
The Mayflower was 90 feet long
It arrived in Plymouth, MA in 1620
It had 3 masts
It was 25 feet wide
It held 102 passengers
It weighed 180 tons
The Mayflower traveled 2,750 miles across the Atlantic
Use this list of facts to make up your own math activities and learn some interesting math facts about this famous ship.
Measure the Mayflower
From what I have read, the Mayflower was somewhere between 90 feet and 120 feet. I went with 90 feet to do the following measurement activities.
To begin, either measure out the 90 feet with your child or mark it out yourself ahead of time and then have them measure between the markers.
Either way, grab a tape measure and head outside. Walk the tape measure out as far as it will go. Most likely it will be shorter than 90 feet, so just mark where you stop and start again until you get to the marker.
Using the recording sheet, have your child add up each length you measured. For example, if your tape was 25 feet long then you’ll be adding 25 + 25 + 25 + 15 = 90. If your child has studied multiplication have them multiply same distances first, for example 25 X 3 and then + 15 = 90.
Next, if you have a yard stick have your child measure the 90 feet to get his answer for how many yards long the Mayflower was. Or have him measure after he does the worksheet calculations and use it as a way to check his seat work. It will help him stay engaged in the recording and converting. And, it’s just fun!
We didn’t have a yard stick, so my son just did the calculations in his head, he is in 5th grade though. I think using an actual yard stick or something measured to 3 feet to represent a yard would be a great way for younger mathematicians to see the conversion happening.
Continue to fill out the recording sheet by converting the feet into inches, finding out how many Mayflowers make up a mile. And, finally convert your calculations into metric.
We did this measurement activity on the beach. and it was so much fun! We brought clipboards for our kids to do their math easily while standing or sitting in the sand.
Pre-K-1st Grade (Younger) Version:
For younger kids you can use non-standard or regular measurement, as appropriate, to see how long the Mayflower was.
List of Non-standard measurement ideas for measuring the length of the Mayflower:
- length of yarn
- mommy or daddy (you don’t have to tell them about this one;)
- their own feet
- lightsaber toy
- back scratcher
- a beach towel
- their own bodies
Basically anything they want, but the longer the better for this one because using something like a pencil will take a long time! But, experiment and let your child start with anything they choose.
If they choose something short then ask them questions as they measure to make them think about the value of using something longer and how that would quicken the measuring process.
This may also be a good time for you to talk about why it helps with confusion to use a standard measurement.
My husband measured our daughter with the tape measure and they marked out how many of her the Mayflower was long. She ran around telling us all that the Mayflower was 22 of her long. Super cute. And, educational. Check, check.
Subscribe below and grab the Mayflower math facts and recording sheets for this activity.
Have fun measuring the Mayflower with your kiddos!