Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jamestown: History is Fun

Trying out the heavy armor 
We are visiting the Williamsburg, VA area this week. In preparation for our visit, I checked out some books from the library on Williamsburg and Jamestown. We got to know a bit about Captain John Smith and Pocahontas and talked about the importance of the Jamestown Colony as the first successful English colony in America. According to a family historian, we are descended from Pocahontas and her husband Thomas Rolfe. While this connection is not 100% confirmed, it makes learning about this part of history even more interesting for us.

On Sunday, we went to the Jamestown Settlement - a living history sight complete with fort and indian village. We enjoyed exploring indian houses and the fort buildings, but I think our favorite thing was walking around on full-scale, ocean going replicas of the three ships that brought the first settlers to Jamestown in 1607 - the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery.

Inside a fort residence
With one of the fort soldiers
Jonah holding a replica sword (it was nice and blunt!)
Indian Village
Interior of the Indian Hut
Below deck of the Susan Constant
Aboard the Godspeed
Waving from the Susan Constant
Next, we went to Historic Jamestowne - the National Park that contains the actual site of the original Jamestown Fort and subsequent town. About 15 years ago the foundations of the actual fort were identified by archaeologists. Archaeologists continue to study findings at the site and recently, the Jamestown Colony has been in the news due to the discovery of forensic evidence indicating cannibalism during the first few years of the colony.

With statue of Pocahontas
Statue of John Smith with historic church and fort palisades in background
Later in the week, we stopped at the glassblowers area. We learned a bit about this historic trade as we watched the glass makers create vases.

If you are considering a stop in Jamestown or just want to learn about it at home, there are some great kids books out there to help give context and educate kids and adults alike. Here are just a few:

John Smith Escapes Again!
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Civil War Soldier! - My 6 yr old son loves this series
The Doctors: Colonial Americans
The Glassmakers (Colonial Craftsmen)
Explore Colonial Jamestown with Elaine Landau (Explore Colonial America with Elaine Landau)
DK Readers: Pocahontas

Related articles:

  • Cannibalism evidence found at Jamestown settlement (cbsnews.com)
  • Homeschooling from the Heart with Help from Lewis and Clark (shannafern.com)
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