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Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Field Trip to Remember . . .

Each year in February and September, Colonial Williamsburg hosts home schoolers at a great discount and also offers special programming.  While we have never taken advantage of the special programming, we have taken advantage of the discounted tickets over the past several years. 

When we first went Williamsburg, the kids were 11, 8, 8 and 5.  Daniel wasn't born yet.  I had made the girls colonial dresses and they had a blast dressing up and going around Williamsburg.  For Christmas that year, they all received colonial related gifts - - the boys got costumes from Vision Forum, handmade haversacks with spyglasses, maps, compasses and a pack of "colonial" cards, along with a tricorn hat.  The girls got new handmade dresses and caps.  Except for Jenna, they've outgrown dressing up, but we still enjoy our trips to Williamsburg. 

Some of our favorite places to visit are the Wig and Perugmakers Shop, the Brick Yard, the Cabinet Makers, and the Blacksmith's.  Year after year, I am constantly reminded of how well Colonial Williamsburg keeps alive the traditional ways of making things.  The bricks made in the brickyard are used for building within Colonial Williamsburg.  Each brick is laboriously shaped by hand, allowed to dry and then bake in a kiln around the clock.  The blacksmith constructs hinges to be used on doors, nails to be used in building, and other various items like handles, weather vanes, etc.  The cabinet makers reconstruct moldings and furniture by hand to be used in the various buildings around the town.  The gardens and fields are planted each year, not only to teach the visitors, but to be used in the cooking demonstrations, to feed livestock, and propagate "heritage" plants. You can buy these "heirloom" seeds at the garden store.  And, the visitors are even sometimes allowed to participate in keeping the traditions alive.  Dave and the kids (even Daniel) helped clear the field of corn stalks, which would traditionally go to feed the livestock later in the winter.  Some children were helping to mix the clay with their feet for the making of bricks.  We got to watch the food made at the Govenor's Palace and ponder whether we would eat Macaroni and Cheese with Tongue (can we say eeeewwww!).  The fritters the cook was making smelled quite yummy!  At the wigmaker's, we found out that if we had to ask how much the wigs typically cost, we probably couldn't afford them!  In the past, at the cabinet maker's, they've had the harpsichord open to play (this year it was closed and locked to Andrea's disappointment).  And, the weaver allows us to feel the raw materials and finished products that are made there.

Colonial Williamsburg could rely on modern methods for construction and furniture and all that, but that they choose to do and make things in the more traditional way is what draws me, and I am sure others, back year after year.  And, it is what makes visiting Williamsburg a unique experience, even after visiting several times, there is always something new to discover!  If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it!  While we visit, we usually camp (we have a travel trailer) at American Heritage RV Resort.  Camping helps to make the trip more affordable, since most of our meals can be eaten at the campground or packed (lunch).  Plus the cost of camping is a bit less than the hotels in the area.  American Heritage has camping cabins and models that can be rented. 

You can find more information on Colonial Williamsburg's Home School Experience here.  You can also find out information on visiting Historic Jamestown and Yorktown during the same time periods here.  I am not certain if Jamestown and Yorktown offer their tickets and programs in February.

1 comment:

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