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Colonial Williamsburg Home School Hacks

Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum and private foundation presenting part of an historic district in the city of Williamsburg, VA  

THE 18 CENTURY--our journey as a home school family.

We have been studying early American history in our home-school this year. We felt like our children needed to know the sacrifices that others made to get us to where we are today. Our freedoms were bought with a price, our country is here because of hard working, passionate, God fearing folks who believed in something that was worth the struggle and pursuit of seeing this country flourish to what we have today. We thank them for their endeavors.
with that said....
What better way to bring that to life than with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, VA

You can encourage your students to bring a clipboard to take notes or let them learn by taking photos of your historic outing.
Talk about the things they learn and the new things that they see.
Encourage questions about the events. Talk to the colonists and workers and ask questions, get grandparents involved too. You are on a learning trip, your goal is to walk away with knowledge of a time in history that was important. Not to walk through as fast as you can and gain little or nothing from your trip. 

You are better off visiting half of the town and LEARN MUCH than the whole town and LEARN NOTHING new!

I called and talked to one of the staff members about what was allowed and what was not. 

Before we even started our mini-van I took time to think about the needs of our trip.

Clothing (to prepare for the Day's weather)
We checked the weather the day before. We try to never plan trips weeks before because of hubby's work and we really don't like traveling in the rain. :( So when the weather was just right we were OFF!

Physical Limitations: Knowing because of (FM and CF) and other family members limitations we decided to limit our activities to the ones seen here in this post. To fully enjoy all of the sites and buildings I would recommend a two day visit.

We planned on eating breakfast out the morning of the trip.
This eliminates dirty dishes and save tons of time!

Bring blankets because someone will get cold!
Bring pillows for little ones to take naps on.
 Bring small stools to prop up your feet (it will keep your legs from hurting later and ward off edema.)


I packed two coolers for this part. Both are rolling coolers with retractable handles.
One with canned sodas and one with water bottles.
The water bottles will be handed out to family members before we start our tour.
The sodas are for the ride home. Pack two soda for each person.

Not wanted to blow our budget on the many restaurants along the way, but still wanted to get in a healthy lunch we decided to wing it and pack a lunch. To make things simple I prepared 7 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fresh Macintosh apples and oatmeal cream cookies.
This along with the water would make lunch EASY PEASY!
There are all kinds of places to eat a picnic, on the grasses while site seeing, and their are benches along the way. They encourage family time!

There are hidden drink machines along the way, the sodas and water were 2.75 each.

After buying our tickets we took the shuttle to the pathway that lead to the Governor's Palace.

The ladies and gentlemen are dressed in period attire and this makes you really feel like you are back in time.

What is must have been like to live in such a beautiful home then.

We were taken on a tour in a group of about 25 folks.
This is a character that I snapped a photo of as we came through one of the hallways.

Our guide as she is leaving the palace.

The costumes they wore are as close to authentic period clothes as they can be.
They play their roles to the letter. It is really hard to get them to discuss current issues. It keeps the feeling of living in colonial days realistic to the guest.

I captured all kinds of photos of characters coming and going throughout our visit.

The walls of the Governor's Palace were decorated with weapons.

Taking in all the wonders of this home. Photos are encouraged but not on the steps. This is a safety issue.

The fireplaces are so charming.

Detailed woodwork and decor throughout.

For the infant.

I personally fell in love with the cupboard in the far end of this room. Love the primitive mustard color of the doors, crown molding and shutters. Notice the wigs with the ribbons tied in them. There were more weapons behind the door.

The rooms were so colorful.

The artwork was to behold!

It is clear to see that it was an important part of this time in history.

I imaging that this stove would keep this large room very warm in the cold winter months.

Beautiful lighting.

Overlooking the garden. On this fall day they were adding pine needles to the mums. The walkways are topped with a layer oyster shells.

The tour started in the rear of the Palace. This is the front view. I could not imagine cleaning all those windows! 

Right before we were leaving the yard something caught our eye!

See the opened area at the bottom right of the photo?

It was this.
An opening to a cellar. We asked if we could go in. The guide said sure!

Off we went. You grab hold of one of the two wood handles and WATCH YOUR STEP!

I love the way that the light was reflecting off the ceiling of the cellar.
There was shelves and wine bottles laying in straw. There were little rooms here and there.

Our next stop was the kitchen. The worker was making meat pies.

I love the pantry, all of the crocks and vessels they utilized then were amazing.

As we left the Governor's Palace we got to see one of the many carriages and wagons that travel throughout the area. The horses are beautiful, like Hansel and Gretel they leave a clue..... when they walk along. I would suggest not wearing your best shoes and watch where you step!

The sound of the carriages passing buy make the experience of the day even more nostalgic!

The sounding off of the cannons were LOUD too!

Time to tour other homes and workshops!

The Wythe House. This lady was wearing wool and linen to make her attire fit that of a real colonist.
She even works outside when it is cold. They truly are skilled in their work.

The beds are decorated with fabric and the rooms are large.

Some of the rooms would have been a little to pattern crazy for me to sleep in. 
My mom and I noticed the chairs against the wall. We love the design of the chair covers! Taking notes along the way so we can recreate the same design in our own homes.

Love the black and white pattern.

Getting ready for the day at the vanity.

The lady's and gentlemen's attire and garments were folded and stored in closets with shelves. They would request that they be ironed and pressed when they were ready to wear them.

There were no clothing hangers used at this time.

The children's rooms were more simple in design.

Library and desk.

I love this corner cabinet.

There were lots of maps on the walls.

The kitchen's were not a part of the main house. They were found on the property beside the house. 
Most are surround or near a KITCHEN GARDEN They ate breakfast around 9 AM and 10 AM and lunch was at 2 PM and dinner at 8 PM.

The clothing of the cooks were made of natural fibers to protect them from being burnt while working near the large ovens and fireplaces. This lady was cooking quail while we visited.

The curtains in the kitchen were much different from that of the main house.

 The Cooper was interesting. They really make some useful wood items that would help the town.

Into buckets and container and much more!

We enjoyed watching this women spin on her spinning wheel. The looms were in the back of this building and they created fabric and items to be used later.

Children would become dyers through becoming an apprentice and living with their teachers while learning to properly dye wool. This would take many years to achieve.

We meet this lady in the dress shop. She was purchasing thread, we bought soap and a wood needle holder.

Just some photos of various building and things.

Taking a stroll on a fall day.

A young man sitting outback of the Wythe house.

The carriages as the pass by.

There are all kinds of crafts to see. There are many houses to visit and things to learn.

I encourage you to plan a trip to Colonial Williamsburg and make your own memories!

I encourage you to not just teach your kids through textbooks but through living hands on resources.

You will open their imagination and they will fall in love with learning something new!
Of all of the photos I took throughout our trip this one is my favorite. She was writing in her journal. Wouldn't we love to know what she is penning.

We visited the gift shops on our way out at the visitors center to buy some items to remember our day together.

I encouraged our children to talk about the favorite parts of their trip. If there was one thing they could own from the buildings we toured what would it be? What they would not like about living in that time. What was missing... modern conveniences.  Which ones would they miss the most? Encourage them to ask you questions too. They had fun answering the questions, our daughter turned her doll house into the Governor's Palace the next morning as is pretending she is working at Colonial Williamsburg and guiding her doll family through the Palace. 

We truly have enjoyed learning about Early American History as a family.

Have you been to Colonial Williamsburg? Please share your favorite HACKS in the comments below.

Up Next: 

Get on board as we head out west in our covered wagon!