Today we drove to Williamsburg, VA to visit Jamestown Settlement. We visited Colonial Williamsburg last year, but didn’t get a chance to tour Jamestown and Yorktown. So this trip we skipped Colonial Williamsburg in favor of the other two. And, boy, am I glad we did! We had THE BEST TIME at Jamestown.
In 1607, 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, a group of 104 English men and boys began a settlement on the banks of Virginia’s James River. They were sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, whose stockholders hoped to make a profit from the resources of the New World. The community suffered terrible hardships in its early years, but managed to endure, earning the distinction of being America’s first permanent English colony.
We began by watching a short film that gave us the background information about Jamestown and took a quick visit through the exhibit galleries. Ben wasn’t much interested in the galleries though, he wanted to get outside, where the real action was! There were several areas to tour and it was so hands-on. There wasn’t much Ben couldn’t touch or try here. And the folks dressed in period clothing were happy to answer questions and volunteer information we didn’t even know to ask.
The first area we toured was the Powhatan Indian village. Here Ben was able to see examples of their homes, try his hand at making pottery from clay, tools from deer bones, and cordage from plant fibers. We also watched a catfish being roasted by campfire and Ben was able to use an oyster shell to dig out some of the burned out wood in the middle of a canoe being made from a large log. It was fun for him to imagine Pocahontas living here.
Once we finished learning all we could about the Powhatans, we headed over to the settlement, stopping first at the farm. Ben volunteered to water the “3 sisters” plants (corn, beans, and squash). We had to pull him away from this task, or he would have watered the entire garden. Makes me think that next year, we’ll let Ben plant a garden of his own!
Next we visited the replica of James Fort. Ben was able to try on armor, observe a musket demonstration, and speak with several historical interpreters about life in the fort in the early 1600s.
Our last stop was down on the James River, where replicas of the 3 ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607 are docked. We were able to thoroughly tour the largest of the ships, the Susan Constant, speak with another very knowledgeable interpreter, and Ben also got to ring the bell — 2 rings, indicating the time of 1:00.
I highly recommend a visit to Jamestown if you’re in the Williamsburg area. Or just plan a trip there for the purpose of visiting Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. It’s a trip back in time your children won’t soon forget! The website has several museum guides written for kids. We used these for added learning rather than dragging along more books to read on our trip!
Tomorrow, we’ll visit Yorktown!