Jamestown Settlement & Yorktown Victory Center
24 September 2011
Eight and a half years. That's how long we've lived here. But we've never done the whole colonial thing, even last year when we first started homeschooling and were heavily involved in doing field trips (by my design), so I decided to go ahead and do it (Jamestown and Yorktown) this year while we had the chance. (We'll do Colonial Williamsburg, which is distinct from this program, later in the school year.) The homeschool days run from 10 to 25 September, so technically we still have two more days, since you get unlimited access to both locations with your tickets, but we'll have to pass since we're quite literally out of gas, and it's an hour or so drive to each location & the programs are only on weekdays. (And yes, I know that was a huge run-on sentence. I don't care.)
Along with your unlimited admission, you get one class per child plus one family tour at each location, so it was an awesome deal that I couldn't pass up. While Rob was off work last week, we went up on Tuesday to do the Jamestown location. Unfortunately, I misjudged traffic, so we missed our 0900 classes and had to reschedule them. We did so for yesterday (Friday) when we finally did get there, along with scheduling Yorktown tour and classes for Thursday (two days ago), once I understood that you get classes and tour for both locations, not either/or.
Anyway. So there's your background. Time for photos!
Team Odette at the fountain outside Jamestown Settlement, minus moi of course
Near the fountain, the flag path was representative of all 50 states... we didn't get a close enough look to see if territories were represented, too, but I don't think so.
Right after that, my Nikon battery died (and as usual, I forgot the replacement), so the rest of the pictures from that day were using the iPhone Instagram app, which I lurve.
Heading into the museum
We did manage to get our family tour that day, of the Powhatan Village, and this was our fabulous guide, Mary. She was excellent.
So that we didn't get mobbed by the other groups touring at the same time, Mary took us down to the ships, first. The is the Susan Constant, which we later boarded.
Mary really brought to life what it was like for the early colonists traveling to the New World from England. Here, she's showing them the routes and explaining what life was like on the ship during that time. She was entertaining and enthusiastic, never boring. (Listen to me, like I'm doing a mystery shop report. Hee.)
More ships. I apologize for the darkness of the photograph; I guess my 'save' in Picasa didn't take... Anyway, I think this is the Godspeed, with Discovery in the back.
Aboard the Susan Constant, on the bridge where only the captain was normally allowed unless he invited someone up personally. Lucky us.
There were re-enactors throughout the Settlement, of course, and they're there to be engaged. Here, one "sailor" was sewing a bag, and the kids talked to him about life during the long trans-Atlantic voyage back in the 1600s.
A powder keg, down below - not really filled now, of course
We made our way toward the Powhatan Village then. Here, Mary tells us how the Powhatans would burn down the trees, since they didn't have metal axes like the English, to chop down a tree for making canoes. Then they would char one side and scrape the inside out with oyster shells.
A Powhatan re-enactor talking to the kids about his job in the tribe
In the English settlement, life was hard, too. Mary tells about how the settlers survived, what they did in their daily lives, and let a female re-enactor talk to us briefly before we moved on.
This woman talked about how she may have had to constantly be sewing, repairing clothing (as opposed to sails, like the sailor on the Susan Constant) and repurposing material as things wore out.
Mary explains how they disposed of their artifacts, which turned out to be beneficial for those of us who came later and found them.
Real tobacky, drying on the ceiling, like it would have been back then. It's long been a cash crop here.
(Real) meat curing in another building - Each year, I think she said at Thanksgiving time, they actually butcher a pig in the village, in front of everyone, and cure the meat for the following year's tourists... eww. I don't think I want to revisit for that occasion.
This re-enactor thoroughly explained how his gun worked, fired two shots (LOUD!) and told us when to take the picture (a second or two after the firing). The kids loved this part. I got pictures, but they're missing...hmmm.
Inside the settlers' church, Mary explained how they took frequent breaks to "worship," whether they wanted to or not, and if they missed a session, their food was taken away. That'll teach 'em to miss church!
Here we are, approaching the Powhatan Yehakins, the homes they built. Nope, not all "Indians" lived in teepee structures, but you knew that.
Furs drying everywhere inside one yehakin
Mary explaining how they used oyster shells, once again, but this time to scrape the fur off the skins, so they were useable for clothing and other things, like pouches
Raffia was twisted to make rope. Each family was given a piece, so the children could learn how to do this. We messed ours up, so Mary stepped in to assist!
This Powhatan re-enactor showed us how deer antlers, rocks, and other found objects were used to make effective, strong tools and weapons.
Oh, and bone was used, too...I left that out. So, every part of the deer (or whatever animal they could catch) was used by the Powhatan.
That concluded our tour, so we went inside to use the powder rooms and found this big list on the wall of the earlist Jamestown settlers. Pretty cool, especially if you can read some of their names.
We went home for lunch after that, and we missed our Yorktown visit this past Thursday. I was just too exhausted after co-op on Wednesday, so we skipped it. Plus, we wouldn't have had the gas to go both days anyway. So we went up to Yorktown Victory Center on Friday (yesterday) to take in as much as we could, before heading back to Jamestown Settlement for the kids' classes.
Obligatory arrival pose ;P
In contrast to the 50 state flags at Jamestown, Yorktown's entrance featured flags from the 13 original colonies.
We checked in quickly and then were sent outside to explore as much as we could before the rains came. Before we got started on the tour, I informed the surprised kids that it was the first day of Autumn already. Then we found all these leaves already fallen, with more dropping while I took the picture(s). Hey, Mother Nature - slow down, will ya?
The self-guided tour we took was of the long, outdoor timeline explaining the events leading up to the start of the Revolutionary War. I think I did a pretty good job of explaining each part to the kids, if I do say so myself. We talked about duties/taxes, why the settlers didn't appreciate that so much, and how it was that each side (English vs. Colonists) became so angry at each other. The kids really seemed to get into it and understand, and Sophia relived the story for me later on the long three-hour drive home through the pouring rain. I explained to the kids how important this quote was, and they really got it. I told them they'd probably hear it again many times over the courses of their lives!
Amen! We also discussed whether the kids would rather have a King or a President, and why. They all eventually came to the conclusion that having a President is better - though first Sophia chose King/Queen, probably because it's a more romanticized idea in her mind. (She's fixated lately on the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.)
We talked about how the colonists pulled down the equestrian lead statue of King George and melted down the metal to make bullets for fighting the British. What ingenuity!
Representative bullets from the statue
The mold for making the bullets
I realized later I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures inside here, but at least I had my flash turned off... the kids weren't interested in this part very much, so we hurried through without really getting to figure out who this soldier was.
Chloë did take an interest in this weaving loom, which she thought was enormous. I told her they come much bigger than that!
Outside, we visited the tents where the soldiers camped, learning that in each small tent, 5-6 privates would sleep practically on top of each other. Eesh! I would not have enjoyed that. I need to spread out! This was a kind of "MWR" tent, and the kids are playing the "Close the Box" game here.
A Patriot re-enactor shows the kids how to play "Solitaire," as this other game is sometimes called. He explained that the nails were each hand-made, not molded, and informed the kids that you can find this game at restaurants sometimes. Yup, of course.
The Patriot then explained how the fife and drums were used in the war camps to give commands, sort of in "code," over the noise of the gunfire and other commotion. He explained all about his uniform, too, and told us that everything the soldiers had, they were responsible for and owned. This wasn't a problem for the wealthy officers, but he was an enlisted man, and this would sometimes create a hardship. Yeah, I can relate...
Sophia modeling a tricorner hat, in the more spacious and comfortable junior officers' quarters
Inside the captain's tent, the kids looked at the charts and maps and explored the other artifacts there.
They were fascinated by all the tools in the surgeon's tent. I explained how, sometimes, a soldier would have to "bite the bullet," literally, while an embedded bullet was yanked out of an arm or leg. Much cringing followed that story.
Before we left Yorktown, we saw this female re-enactor holding a gun. The children asked why, so I presumed that the women and kids who were left behind while the menfolk fought the British had to be armed to defend themselves, as well.
After that, we dodged raindrops as we headed back to the van. The kids ate their sandwiches in the car during the half-hour drive through the deluge, back to Jamestown, for their scheduled classes. Here, they're showing off their wristbands from each location. (I had to wear them, too, and I still had mine on when I went to my therapy session that evening. My therapist was all concerned I'd been to the hospital.)
I sat in on Sophia's class, sending Jack and Chloë off to theirs next door, so I don't really know what went on in theirs. In our class, there was more learning about what it was like to be a Powhatan. I forget the instructor's name, but she was pretty great, too.
I must've messed with the settings of my camera and not realized it, because most of my pictures didn't turn out. Bummer. Here, Teach is showing the kids how the Powhatan women could garden with a "hoe" made out of a wooden handle with the shoulder of a deer for the bottom.
Here, she's telling kids about the Indians' three main food crops: corn, squash and... a third thing I'm completely forgetting.
And here is an axe, made out of wood and rock, carefully hewn to be sharp.
After her presentation, the kids were allowed to try certain things she had demonstrated. Sophia is pounding deer sinew with a rock, which they used for strong string with various purposes.
Here, trying to start a fire with a bow and cord. Thankfully, no one was successful!
Wearing a bobcat fur around her neck, Sophia is dressed as a Powhatan boy.
Sophia modeling a necklace that the Powhatan girls might have traded food to the English settlers for, with little bells for jingling music
Exploring the Indian corn
Showing me pieces of antler and bone, used for tools
Sophia's class finished earlier, so we went next door to finish watching the older kids' class. When we walked in, Chloë was up front with her instructor, demonstrating something I missed as we were finding our seats. None of the pictures of the rest of their class - or Jack and Chlo - turned out, but I did get this one of Sophia wearing some armor the Jamestown settlers might have worn.
Afterward, we had to go to the gift shop to turn in our evaluations and get tickets for a drawing, and we found a penny press. It made four pennies, but I only had enough for two. I missed four back at Yorktown, too. Oh well, yet another reason to need to go back next time, in addition to all the great stuff we missed!
Chloë using all her might to crank out a penny
In all, I found it was a wonderful educational experience for the kids. I think they got a lot out of it, and I know I did. We'll definitely do it again next time, and explore the areas we didn't get to see. There's plenty left!