Join us on a virtual fieldtrip to Colonial Williamsburg! This is a fun stand alone lesson or as part of a colonial america for kids
A few weeks ago, my family and I were fortunate enough to get to visit Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. This was especially lucky because I honestly didn’t know much about the place before we arrived in Virginia. Had our campground not been located so near the attraction, I may never have known it existed, and that would have been terribly unfortunate considering how neat this place is.
For those of you who are as clueless as I was, Colonial Williamsburg is an incredible living history museum. The museum is presented as an entire town straight out of 18th-century colonial America, with shops, homes, and government buildings that visitors are allowed to enter. Guests have the opportunity to watch trade people do their work and visit with people from the 1700s. It’s all entertaining of course, but also an amazing learning experience we will never forget.
That said, because we went in blind, we had to learn some things the hard way. In order to help you avoid the same problems, I have compiled some tips for visiting Colonial Williamsburg with kids.
Visiting Colonial Williamsburg with Kids
Research your Destination
I’ll start by saying that, thanks to both the Broadway musical Hamilton and my son’s inquisitive nature, everyone in our party went in with at least a basic understanding of the colonial time period and the Revolutionary War. However, I do wish we had done a bit more research on the subject in order to give our five-year-old a better foundation to build on during our visit.
It all worked out just fine, but I do think he may have gotten more out of the experience had we done some reading on the colonial times beforehand.
Therefore, I highly recommend doing some reading before your trip. Here are some of my favorite children’s books on the subject. I found these after the trip and feel they would have been perfect preparation for a young child:
- If you Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Day
- Hogsheads to Blockheads
- If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution
- My Name is America: The Diary of William Thomas Emerson, a Revolutionary War Patriot
- Magic Treehouse: Revolutionary War on Wednesday
- Original Felicity Collection
I also really love the A History of US series by Joy Hakim and feel that the 3rd volume, “From Colonies to Country”, would be a good expansion on a Williamsburg field trip for teen students.
Allow Yourself Time
This town is walkable, but pretty big for what it is. Therefore, you will definitely want to allow yourself plenty of time to see everything. We were there for one day and only saw a fraction of what the place has to offer. I think two or three days would be ideal, especially if your kids are really into the idea.
Pack Food and Drink
There is food available in the town. However, unless you are looking for a sit-down meal at one of the many taverns, you might have a hard time finding the snacks and drinks as they are well-hidden within the historical buildings. Besides, as one might expect, the snacks at this attraction are a bit pricey.
Therefore, I highly recommend bringing some snacks and plenty of water. This will help you save money and ward off the grumpy moods that come along with hunger.
Speaking of food, you will likely want to have at least one meal in one of the historic taverns. These eateries serve up delicious food and provide an immersive colonial experience. That said, you will definitely want to make a reservation in order to avoid the long waits that often occur during the busier times of day.
If you are looking for ways to give your kids an even more immersive experience, consider making or renting a costume for the day. Colonial costumes are fairly easy to whip up if you know how to sew. However, for those who don’t have such skills, rentals are available at the Market Square in Colonial Williamsburg and they are adorable.
Let the Kids Lead
As I mentioned before, there is a lot to see in this museum. For this reason, it can become quite overwhelming for kids. On the other hand, the younger crowd could potentially become irritable when being carted from place to place.
Therefore, it is important to take the kids’ opinions into account and allow them to lead for at least part of the time. If the little ones are tired, go to the hotel and take a break. If they prefer to see the blacksmith over the wigmaker’s shop, go see the blacksmith. Not only is it good to let a kid follow their intuition sometimes, it will also help keep everyone engaged and happy, ensuring you have a pleasant visit.
Set Up a Fact Hunt
The actors within the Colonial Williamsburg town are wonderful. They are knowledgeable, and many of them never break character for anything. Of course, this presents a wonderful learning opportunity, as visitors are allowed to have conversations with these “people of the past” about anything they like. However, if your kids don’t know what to ask, the opportunity could be wasted.
In order to ensure your kids have plenty of conversation topics prepared, consider setting up a fact hunt. Create lists of relevant questions for your kids and instruct them to gather the information needed to fill them out. This will likely require talking with the staff, meaning some great conversations will be had.
I hope this information helps you and your family plan a fantastic and educational adventure in Colonial Williamsburg. Say hi to the tinsmith for me!