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Squanto's gift: A Thanksgiving science lesson



  • Mathematics
  • Science
    -Life Sciences
    -Physical Science
    -Earth Science
  • Social Studies
    -U.S. History


  • PreK
  • K-2
  • 3-5


Brief description

This hands-on science activity proves what a great help Squanto was to the early settlers.


Students will

  • plant seeds.
  • water one plant with water; water the other plant with water and a fish emulsion supplement for plants.
  • predict which seed will grow faster.
  • monitor and record seedling growth.
  • describe what they learned from the lesson.


plant, corn, Native, American, Thanksgiving, fish, fertilize, fertilizer, predict, seed

Materials Needed

  • half-pint milk cartons or small plant pots
  • soil
  • seeds (corn is a good seed to use for this activity)
  • fish emulsion fertilizer
  • water

Lesson plan

It is said that Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about growing crops in the soil at Plymouth. Since fish were plentiful in the area, Squanto showed how fish could be used to fertilize the seeds the Pilgrims planted. In this activity, students will see firsthand the effects of "Squanto's science lesson."

Students might work in pairs to complete this activity. Provide each student with a half-pint milk carton or small flower/seedling pot. Have students fill their container with soil. Plant seeds in the soil according to instructions on the seed packet.

Each pair of students will water their gardens regularly. They will water one plant with water only. They will water the other plant with water plus a fish emulsion fertilizer.

Fish emulsion can be purchased at any nursery. (Stores such as Home Depot and Lowes probably have fish emulsion in stock, too.) Note: Some fish emulsion products have an odor, others are odorless. Observe safety instructions when handling fish emulsion products.

Each pair of students will keep a record of the growth of their two plants. You might create a form for students to use that includes spaces where students can

  • write their names.
  • write a prediction about what might happen and why.
  • record measurements/observations as their plants grow.
  • write a paragraph about what they learned from the experiment.



Students will write a paragraph that tells what they learned from the experiment.

Lesson Plan Source

Gary Hopkins, Education World


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Updated 11/06/2015