by Micaela Williamson
UPDATED: This post contains new and previously published information from Kid Trips.
Repeat after me, "History is FUN!" Yes, you heard that right. If your memories of history include memorizing timelines and writing definitions in composition notebooks, then it's time to create new memories. The perfect place for hands-on history is the historic triangle of Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown. Here, history truly comes to life. We've written about this area in the past, and as our children grow and change, it's a place that we keep coming back to learn more.
We especially love the immersive historical environments of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (read our previous post here) and Jamestown Settlement.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown:
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown tells the story of our nation's founding from the colonial period to the Constitution and beyond. The museum features amazing artifacts and multimedia exhibits that include interactive features, films and deeply engaging environments. (Read our past review here.) Kids will especially love:
Jamestown Settlement is a museum and replica of America's first permanent English colony, founded in Virginia in a 1607. The museum consists of two sections: an indoor area with a theater and exhibits and an outdoor living-history program, including a recreated Powhatan village, replicas of the ships that transported the colonists from England to Jamestown, and a fort area.
Start your visit with Jamestown Settlement's introductory film and museum. The documentary film, 1607: A Nation Takes Root, is shown every 30 minutes and narrates the story of the Virginia Company that sponsored the colony and tells about the English colonists, Powhatan Indians, and arrival of the first Africans. Then explore the museum galleries to view hundreds of artifacts and objects from 17th-century Europe, Africa, and Virginia as well as some hands-on, interactive exhibits for kids.
Don't learn about Pocahontas from a Disney movie! Instead, become familiar with the Powhatan way of life in the outdoor village by going inside a replica home, viewing samples of their clothing and tools used in daily life, seeing a ceremonial circle, watch a canoe being made and more. Historical interpreters are around to teach and demonstrate. Plus, kids will love the opportunities to grind corn, try on animal hide clothing, pretend to sleep in a Powhatan bed or play a game of corncob darts.
Next, visit the re-created James Fort, representing the military and commercial character of the English Jamestown Settlement during 1610-14. Check out the thatched roof dwellings, step inside a model Anglican church, and see a sample court, offices, storehouse, and a governor's house. Kids will love trying on armor and playing games of quoits (ring-toss) and ninepins (bowling). Historical guides enhance the experience. Be sure to stick around for the demonstration on weapons, and watch the guide fire a musket.
Finally, walk over to the docks to see the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery – re-creations of three ships that brought English colonists to Virginia in 1607. Climb aboard to find out about life aboard these vessels, and the difficult 4.5 month voyage from England.
Special thanks to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation for hosting our visit. All opinions are our own.
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