Williamsburg, VA is about the closest you’re going to get to experiencing colonial life at its finest (and most difficult). If you’re looking for a way to help your kids understand the difficulties of the “olden life” and have some good fun along with it, there’s really no better place to take the whole family.
The best part is, there are built-in activities for the kids (and the whole family, if you’re inclined) that come with admission, and depending on the day, the opportunities are really almost endless. It depends on the weather, the mood of the colonial actors, and exactly what your kids are looking for. Some simulated events are set to happen every day (town “fires,” for example), but others are far less planned out and require you to be in the right place at the right time. Age plays a factor as well, as some of the little ones aren’t encouraged to do some of the more strenuous activities, but there’s something for all of them to do, whether big or small.
If you ever wanted to get your kids some dance lessons, this is a unique way to do it. At Colonial Williamsburg the dances you’ll be learning are a bit archaic, but that doesn’t make them any less fun. Your kids will be dancing with actors in full costume who are trained to act appropriately to the time they’re set in, and they really don’t flinch. They’re also trained dancers themselves – it’s historic and a real learning experience! The dances from colonial times are worlds apart from the contemporary dance we know now, so not only is it a history lesson, it’s a way to get your kids doing something they normally wouldn’t have the chance to. Besides, it’s plenty of fun!
If farm life isn’t part of your day-to-day, try things out the colonial way. Grocery stores weren’t an option, so things had to be done the good old-fashioned way — they came straight from the source! Older kids are welcome to milk some of the cows that are on the property, help herd some of the other farm animals, and collect eggs from the hens. While this is all heavily supervised (and kept cleaner than it would be under normal circumstances), it’s a taste of the life they probably would have lived if food wasn’t as readily available as it is now. On top of the farm chores, there are also frequent carriage rides pulled by the horses, or cargo rides pulled by ox, and everyone’s encouraged to jump right on. Horse riding is also available on the trails, but it costs a little extra.
Experience Colonial Emergency
They’re in wartime at Colonial Williamsburg! The actors are more than willing to demonstrate some of the biggest challenges of the war, as well as some more everyday emergencies. Fires, for example, were often a problem. When the alarm bells sound, help your kids line up to be part of the “Bucket Brigade,” a less streamlined, colonial way of putting out fires. There’s no actual danger to the situation, but for some of the younger kids swept up in the moment, it’ll feel like they’re really helping out with something at stake. It’s a good way to teach responsibility and responding in emergencies, and since it’s a thing of the past, there’s no need for real alarm!
And these are just the activities included with admission. Want to make some colonial jewelry? Help sew something? Work with the blacksmith? It’s all entirely impossible, and usually for a reasonable price. What’s your favorite child-friendly activity at this historic site?