This is an exciting time of the year to be a teacher of young children because learning about the Pilgrims and Indians is a subject my second graders are always interested in. Squanto’s story is especially fascinating.
He was such a survivor! Squanto was kidnapped from his home in America in 1605 by English explorers when he was just a child. He was sold as a slave to monks who taught him English. He lived in London and later Spain before returning home. When he finally made it home, he found his Patuxet tribe had been wiped out by a plague. He then lived with his friend Samoset in the neighboring Wampanoag tribe.
In 1620 the Pilgrims came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in Squanto’s old village. Squanto decided to live with the Pilgrims and teach them how to survive in the wilderness that he knew so well. He taught the Pilgrims how to hunt for deer, where the fish swam, the best ways to catch them, where to find berries and herbs and how to plant corn the Indian way (in hills with a dead fish to make the soil richer).
He and Samoset (who also knew some English) and the Indian king Massasoit made friends with the Pilgrims. In 1621 a treaty was made for peace and kept for fifty four years. Squanto assisted in arranging this treaty, which bound the tribes to Plymouth. As a reward the Pokanokets, who had previously captured him, allowed Squanto to live with the English at the site of his original Patuxet home. Talk about coming full circle! And in return for helping them, the Pilgrims protected Squanto and allowed him to continue to live with them.
Because of Squanto the Pilgrims had much to be thankful for and they invited the Indians to the first Thanksgiving feast. It lasted three days. Massasoit arrived with ninety Indians. My second graders love comparing menus of the first Thanksgiving to what they eat today. It’s really not all that different; turkey and corn are still popular staples!
Squanto lived with the Pilgrims the rest of his life. The Pilgrim children loved him and followed him everywhere.
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Squanto did what any kind neighbor would do, he came over to say hello and help with dinner!! Then he made a decision that should inspire all of us. He decided to share his knowledge with his new friends. He taught them things that he knew well, things that would make their lives better.
This Thanksgiving, toast to Squanto with your family! Encourage your children to be the Squanto in their school. Squanto’s story is a wonderful one to share with your children because it teaches them they should be friendly, kind and helpful to the new kids. After all, history could have been a lot different if it weren’t for Squanto helping the Pilgrims survive in their new home in America.
In honor of celebrating the first Thanksgiving I think it’s nice to pay homage to Squanto. Please enjoy one of our family favorites; suitably, corn! Happy Thanksgiving!
Ashley’s Corn Pudding
- 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons butter, in all
- 3 tablespoons dried Italian bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped bacon
- 4 ears of corn
- 2 teaspoons salt, in all
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 small chopped onion
- 1 minced shallot
- 1-2 minced garlic
- 1 chopped red bell pepper
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 T bourbon
- 6 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
Preheat the oven 365 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a large casserole dish (13-inch by 9-inch) with 1 teaspoon of butter. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly on the bottom and sides of the dish. Cut the corn off the cob. In a sauté pan, melt the remaining butter. Add the bacon and sauté for about 3 minutes or until the bacon is crispy. Stir in the corn, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the cayenne. Add the onions, shallots, garlic, and bell peppers and cook for 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted. Remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk the cream, milk, bourbon and eggs together. Add the remaining salt, black pepper, nutmeg, and cheese. Stir the corn mixture and cornmeal into the cream mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until golden.