We have been to a lot of places that I have a backlog of on my “to write about” list. Some even go back a few years. As Thanksgiving approaches, the kids have been doing a lot of reading and learning about the Pilgrims and their journey to America. The beauty of homeschooling (or “Roadschooling,” as we call it) is being able to adjust and move the learning in the direction that the kids show interest. So, while reading about the Jamestown settlement, we dug into the memories and looked back at our trip to Virginia from awhile back.
As you probably know, the Jamestown settlement was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. They arrived in 1607 and struggled to survive, but eventually made a sustainable colony along the James River. They settled land that was occupied by the Powhatan Indians. It is from here that we get the famous story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith.
There are two places to visit when you go to Jamestown. There is the Jamestown Settlement, which is a living history museum. It is right down the road from the site of the original settlement, called Historic Jamestown. We ended up getting a ticket package deal that included the Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestown, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, and the Yorktown Battlefield. They are all right near each other. We only had 3 days there, and were able to do everything without a problem. Unfortunately, the National Parks Pass only gets you a discount, not free admission, because it is run by an outside agency.
The Jamestown Settlement was really fun for the kids. It also gave us a good overview of what the colony actually looked like, since the actual settlement site is more of an archaeological historical site. Since the Jamestown Settlement is a living museum, they have people dressed in period clothing, interacting with the visitors.
They have replicas of the three ships that brought the settlers across the ocean to the Americas. You can climb aboard and explore them. There are interactive interpreters dressed in period costumes to answer any questions.
There is also a replication of a Powhatan Indian village. The kids loved going inside their homes and seeing how they lived. They also liked pretending to row a canoe and grinding corn.
The English settler’s homes were interesting too. They had costumed interpreters throughout the village in the various homes showing different skills. The kids liked the gunpowder exhibition and watching the blacksmith. They loved asking questions and seeing how the settlers lived.
After we explored the Jamestown Settlement, we headed a short ways down the road to see Historic Jamestown. That was my favorite of the two places. I love the history and archaeology. It was pretty neat to stand at the site of the first permanent English settlement it American history.
We were there later in the day, and the archaeologists had gone home already. They are actually still digging and finding artifacts! They leave the dig sites wide open, so that you can see what they are working on.
When they have carefully excavated a specific home site or area, they cover it back up to protect it, and mark where it is and what they think it was. It’s very interesting to see that they are discovering new things about Jamestown and the people who lived there even now.
We were very interested in the small museum they have onsite called the Archaearium. This is where they display many of the artifacts that they find. The displays are fascinating.
Down the road a little bit is the Jamestown Glasshouse. Here they show the authentic way that glass makers in Jamestown made glass. They have traditional kilns and master craftsmen demonstrating how. And there is a little gift shop where you can purchase items that are made there. It is worth stopping at. I wanted to buy so many things, but living in an RV is not conducive to collecting glass items!
I would recommend at least 2 days to really check out the whole Jamestown experience. It’s an amazing trip back in time and a wonderful way to learn about our early American History first hand.