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Hands On Experiences at Colonial Williamsburg

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Over the course of the week we met families from Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio and New York who had come Colonial Williamsburg for the homeschool experience.  During homeschool week they had lots (and lots) of children’s activities.  Every activity we went to was absolutely terrific and educational.  Here are some of the things we attended during the week:

We did both the normal orientation walk as well as the children’s orientation.

Life of a Soldier:

The kids got to experience life as a revolutionary war soldier. They saw the tents that soldiers lived in, practiced some of the drills soldiers had to do with their guns and LD got to light the gunpowder on the canon.  There’s no actual picture of that because I was standing right behind him and jumped almost out of my skin!!

Just look how the ‘soldiers’ flinched later in the day. Now imagine my reaction as my son created such an explosion!! Well, actually they used a lot less gunpowder for the shot LD fired, but still… what a bang!!

Bits and Bridles:

The kids learned all about the use of horses during revolutionary war times. The guide not only explained how horseshoes were put on the horses, but passed around an example horse’s leg to show the structure of the horse.

Then we got to see the carriages and (most importantly for the kids) the horses in the stalls!

We attended two evening programs.

Mama Said, Papa Said — was a program that focuses on the oral tradition of the African American community.  It showed how stories were used to teach morals and values.   One person stood up at a time on stage telling riveting stories. Do you know what ED (age 4) said after the hour program was over?  ”Mama, why is it over so soon?”  Listen to these stories on the Colonial Williamsburg podcast, Mama Said, Papa Said.

Ghost Walk — Our guide led around the streets of Colonial Williamsburg sharing eerie stories and strange happenings.  We learned that there are tunnels that run underground so supplies can be brought in to the restaurants… Strange sightings have even been seen down there!

The programs at the museum were exceptional as well!!

We attended Tikki Tikki Tembo where they read the children’s book and looked closely at and talked about the illustrations.  The guide then sent the kids on a scavenger hunt to find examples of revolutionary period pieces that had Chinese art in the same style as the illustrations in the book.  Then they brought the kids into a special room where they could examine more art and create their own revolutionary war period dishes!

Scherenschnitte – The German art of scissor cutting brought over the America in the 18th and 19th centuries. They had designs that we could cut our or we could design our own.  Everyone had fun at this activity!

Lucy Locket Lost Her Pocket: 

What was carried in the revolutionary war period pocket? coins, bills, keys, combs, mementos, personal correspondence, inspirational verse, etc.  While the girls and moms really enjoyed this program, though LD wasn’t as excited about the clothes, petticoats and lady’s pocket.  What was neat was that the guide opened the locked display drawers and showed us some of the things tucked away. In the picture below, the guide pointed out how the lady in the blue dress had a bulge (which is where her pocket would have been).  The cartoon shows a thrifty (or perhaps stingy) woman, and then there are a couple examples of a pocket.  The shoes — well I included those just because they’re so fashionable!

Secret Codes, Spy Craft: There were two programs about codes and ciphering the kids attended at the museum.

Crack the Code: The kids spent time figuring out secret messages such as the one below.

Spy Craft: The kids learned about the book codes and the cipher wheel. When Thomas Jefferson served as Washington’s secretary of State he devised a secure method for enciphering and deciphering messages called the Cipher Wheel. At the end of the week our family and our friends’ family bought cipher wheels so the kids could continue creating and deciphering secret messages to one another!

From the picture below can you figure out what this says?

ZHQAXWHSYRMA

While the older kids were busy deciphering their secret messages with their friends, I took ED off to the garden maze behind the Governor’s Palace.  She loved that as much as the older kids loved their spy classes! She made a little friend from Georgia and they spent a long time exploring the maze and running around together.

On our final day we took a carriage ride through the city and watched the show behind the courthouse.  It was an amazing end to an amazing week!

The General Reviews the Troops:

Here is a link to the Colonial Williamsburg Homeschool Experience Itinerary if you’re interested for next year! Here’s a link to their daily calendar of events just so you get a feel for how much is on offer. There is SO much we didn’t do (the Rev. Quest, the witch trials, the blacksmith’s apprentice, etc.) — and yet our week was absolutely packed full! We highly recommend taking a trip down to Williamsburg if you ever get the chance!

Here is the link to our previous post: Homeschool Week at Colonial Williamsburg.

You should also try to visit Jamestown while you’re there too! It’s about 20-30 minutes away.

 

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