Monday, October 6, 2014

School Summary - Field Trip to Williamsburg in Virginia's Historic Triangle

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A Summary of September 15-19

We took our first week long break from our Sabbath schooling schedule (6ish weeks on, 1 week off), and we sure put our break to good use. We were so thankful to be able travel to Virginia for a week to explore their Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

Colonial Williamsburg schedules special Homeschool Days each fall and spring and offer extremely discounted rates for homeschoolers as well as extra programs at each location. I'll give you a run down of what we did in case you want to make the trip yourself. My original post was getting way too long so I'll break it down by location. Check out the rest of our trip here and here.

The middle part of our vacation week was spent at Colonial Williamsburg.
We tried to take advantage of as many extra programs that we possibly could. The younglings also participated in the RevQuest special mission.

Rather than give you a day by day itinerary of our running around, I'll give you highlights of what we saw and did.
Houses-We had so many things to do and see that we decided to be choosy about which houses we would look at. The houses all had guided tours of various time lengths. Must see's for us were the Governor's Palace and Kitchen, Peyton Randolph house, the Colonial garden, and the James Geddy house. We passed on the George Wythe house, the Great Hopes Plantation (because of time), the Powell house, the Mary Stith house (wasn't open), and the Thomas Everard house.
Governor's Palace
Governor's Palace ballroom
Governor's Palace rear garden
The Peyton Randolph house
The Peyton Randolph house
The James Geddy house
I don't have good pictures but we also got to try a country dance with the dancing master at the James Geddy house. No one else in the tour was inclined to dance so it me and the younglings with the dancing master.

Community Buildings-We saw the Capitol, the Courthouse, the Magazine, Market Square (an outdoor gift shop), Presbyterian Meetinghouse, Public Gaol, R. Charlton's Coffeehouse, and Wetherburn's Tavern. We skipped Bruton Parish Church (we thought about going to an evening concert but were too tired), African American Religion, Public Hospital (not suitable for children or sensitive people---we went to this on our honeymoon. It was disturbing.), Raleigh Tavern (not open), and the Wren Building.
Wetherburn's Tavern private dining room
Wetherburn's Tavern kitchen
Wetherburn's Tavern - they let the younglings use very old looking, large skeleton keys to lock up the scullery and kitchen since we were the last tour of the day.
Wetherburn's Tavern - they let the younglings use very old looking, large skeleton keys to lock up the scullery and kitchen since we were the last tour of the day.
Bass got to be part of the courthouse drama.
In the stocks
The Magazine wasn't a guided, timed tour but the interpreter offered great info and answered questions.
The Capitol building where the Burgesses met
At the Public Gaol, trying out the irons.
Presbyterian Church - Tenor giving us a sermon
The view from the porch at R. Charlton's Coffeehouse. We saw this site being excavated while on our honeymoon in 2000. The Coffeehouse is cool. They bring you in for the tour and at the end serve you your choice of tea, coffee, or chocolate.
Tradespeople-The younglings loved seeing the craftsmen and artisans in action. They were all very open to questions. Sometimes we'd come in while other conversations were already going and we didn't always have time to stay and ask questions of our own. But we enjoyed most of the them. Things we saw included Anderson's Blacksmith and Public Armoury, Apothecary, Bindery, Brickmaker, Cabinetmaker, Cooper, Gunsmith and Foundry, Joiner, Leatherworker, Milliner, Printing Office, Shoemaker, Silversmith, Weaver, Wheelwright, and the Wigmaker. We didn't see the Basketmaker (closed), Carpenter, or the Tailor.
the Silversmith
the Apothecary
the Wigmaker
the Cabinetmaker - I got to play a spinet in the shop area of this building.
the Weaver - Weavers often left steps out of their written down patterns so competitors couldn't duplicate their pattern
the Shoemaker

at the Cooper - Cooper coming from the Latin word cūp, meaning cask or vessel
the Cooper - the gal on the far left seemed to be in an apprenticeship
the Bindery
Soprano's pic of the Wheelwright
Soprano's pic of the Tinsmith
A millener working on lace elbow cuffs
Soprano's pic at the Millinery
Soprano's pic of the Tailor's work area at the Millinery
Making bricks (softening the clay) at the Brickyard
at the Gunsmith
 Other extras:
"Storming the Palace" drama
"Storming the Palace" drama
"Rogues, Fops, and Villains" presentation at the Playbooth Theater
Thomas Jefferson in his own words on the Charlton stage (behind the Coffeehouse)
Lunch at Chowning's Tavern
Our waiter at Chowning's was also the pre-dinner seating entertainment
"Declaration of Independence" program at the Art Museum
"Life of a Soldier" program at the Military Encampment. We paid extra for each of us to be trained as militia for about an hour. We marched, learned about life in camp, learned how to load and shoot our muskets (large sticks on the rack in the picture), and use bayonets.
Hearing Thomas Jefferson read the Declaration of Independence from the Courthouse steps
"Revolution in the Streets" drama on the Coffeehouse stage- two enslaved people debating whether to stay or flee to the British army for the promise of freedom
"Revolution in the Streets" drama - rallying more men for the militia outside Raleigh Tavern

"Onward to Yorktown" drama behind the Courthouse - George Washington rallying the people
"Onward to Yorktown" drama behind the Courthouse
RevQuest-We did the online version RevQuest before our trip which helped the younglings recognize locations in the town when we arrived.
Getting our mission
Finding a message
Meeting a fellow agent with information we needed to pass on
Bass and I had our honeymoon in Williamsburg because my grandparents gave us a week at their timeshare there as a wedding gift. We've gone back twice since then but the last time was years ago. It was interesting to see the things that had changed and the things that we had remembered and get to do things we had never done.

Tips if you decide to go:
*We stayed at a hotel that is part of the Colonial Williamsburg area so parking wasn't an issue. You can park for free at the Visitor's Center and take the shuttle into the town. We walked to the Visitor Center each day and took the shuttle in.
*We packed a lunch each day because you can eat in town. There are picnic table areas here and there. There are also shops that sell snacks and cold drinks. It was a money saver for us to bring sandwiches, snacks, and bottled water. You do have to leave unsealable drinks outside any of the buildings. Our water bottles in our backpack were not a problem. While we packed a lunch each day, we decided that we'd try to lunch at one of the taverns. They don't take reservations for lunch so we weren't sure we could even get in which is why we packed lunch. We ended up getting in for lunch so we just ate our sandwiches at dinner.
*There's a lot of walking. Wear good shoes. We also tried to plan our days so that we could do the same part of town all at once to minimize the walking.
*RevQuest takes an entire full day but it can be the only thing you do that day. Or if you do other things in-between deciphering messages and meeting agents, it can be stretched over two. We stretched it out over two days. The younglings loved it! It was put together really well and helped make the era really come alive.
*Costumes can be rented or purchased at Williamsburg ($25 to rent, $60+ to buy) but we bought Soprano's dress off eBay for $20. We saw the same dress at Yorktown.
*If you stay at a Colonial Williamsburg hotel, purchases can be charged to your room and delivered to your hotel. I felt very Paris Hilton.
*The restrooms are few and far between.
*The programs at the museum were great! We did two. Unfortunately, one of them got cut short because the group had a seriously wretchedly behaved pack of children. If it had been my kids, I would have removed them myself. The docent was too nice to say anything but she cut the hour long presentation and craft down to 20 minutes plus the craft.
*The house tours were very informational. I don't think they're geared for the pre-K and toddler set though. :)
*We saw "Storming the Palace" our first day which helped set up our time there. We saved "Revolution in the Streets" and "Onward to Yorktown" for our last afternoon there because we went to Yorktown the next day.
*The Brickyard was really fun for the younglings. There is a water pump and buckets to wash off with but there are no towels for drying. If you let your kiddos work the clay, consider bringing an old towel or something to clean them up with.
*I highly recommend the book "Hogsheads to Blockheads: the Kids' Guide to Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area" for kids to read before you go.
*We never got to the Visitor Center to see the movie which is our only regret of the trip.
*The best time to get pics in the stocks is after 5pm. The ticketed buildings are closed and most of the people have cleared out.
*Shops are open until 6pm or later so save your shopping for the end of the day to maximize time in the ticketed buildings.

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