Friday, July 22, 2011

Williamsburg, VA

I recently traveled to Williamsburg, VA for their Teacher Institute! It was amazing! I highly recommend it to all teachers. While there, I stayed in a colonial tavern, ate at great colonial restaurants, and visited all of the colonial sites that are within Williamsburg. For those of you who do not know, Williamsburg is a living museum built where an original colonial town was. 88 original buildings from the 18th century still stand. There are many more that have been recreated to perfection! They are just awesome to see.

This is where my hotel room was... in the Red Brick Tavern.

We also traveled to Jamestown and Yorktown to see more historical areas. While in Jamestown, we learned more about the Powhatan tribe and their way of life. We made necklaces, learned about trade, and even learned how to heave a barrel of rum onto the large ships. (I wouldn't have made it back in those days.... too hot and tough!!)

We also looked at the earliest English life in America... not so glamorous. 

We saw Jamestown Island, which is the actual location that Jamestown was originally established. That was really interesting. There were archeologists out digging, still looking for signs of earlier people. Jamestown burned down during Beacon's Rebellion and many believed it was buried under the James River, never to be found. However, they have started finding many artifacts and proof that this is indeed the spot of the first English settlement in America! My favorite part of that was seeing where the original church stood, which happens to be where Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married.  In the picture below, the man is standing where Pocahontas would have stood during the ceremony. So cool!!

We traveled to Yorktown at the end of my trip to see where some famous battles took place. While there, we got to practice being soldiers too (once again, I would have never made it!)

We got to see how soldiers would have lived while away at war. They slept 6 men to a tent. Pretty cramped and not really comfy!

Life was very difficult as a soldier. Discipline was handled by making them wear a sign around their neck for a period of time that stated what you had done wrong. If that didn't work, you were whipped. Women were allowed to go to the camps if her husband was in the camp. She was responsible for cooking, cleaning, laundry, nursing soldiers back to health, and sewing.

Back in Williamsburg, we go to do so many terrific things! I will do a separate post about the top ten things I got to do while there! We learned so many wonderful ideas to bring back to the classroom. For example, we learned some great games to teach the kids such as hoops and sticks, Huckle Buckle Beanstalk, Saw Saw Bre Wa Adesa (not sure on the spelling there), and shut the box. Maybe I will do a separate post with some instructions for those. 

We learned so many interesting things about slavery and ways to present it to children. I always struggled with how to do that. Williamsburg gave some great ideas. It was hard to see that people were treated so awful.

We were fully immersed in colonial life for 7 days. It was like being taken back in time. I would encourage all teachers to look into going. It was such a great experience. I can see how all teacher would benefit from it and take something back to the classroom.  One of the most important things that Williamsburg instilled in us is that it is so important to use primary sources with kids. "Primary sources" are items such as document or artifacts from that time. We used a variety of primary sources such as newspapers, clothing, tools, paintings, furniture, wills, records, etc. to complete activities.

If you want more information on how to apply for the teacher institute grant, visit this website: Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence

Colonial Williamsburg has a website that allows you to take a virtual tour of town, shop in the local stores and find out more info on the teacher institute:

Also, there are some wonderful activities online at the online Williamsburg Teacher Community where you can create an account to access some great lessons and primary sources:

Lastly, the Jamestown and Yorktown foundation also has a great website where you can purchase neat items and finds lessons/ideas:

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