On our way back from the Outer Banks, we decided we would spend a day at Jamestown. This is a reconstruction of the first permanent settlement by the British in the New World. We first saw the film and toured the museum — which was just fabulous! The kids spent a lot more time reading and browsing through the museum than I thought they would (I guess they’re growing up!!). Then we headed outside to visit the rest of the park.
After the settlers arrived in Virginia 1607, they built a fort to protect themselves from raids by the Spanish and local Indians. The fort was recreated from a description written by an English settler in 1610. The early colonists built the public buildings first such as a storehouse for supplies, a church and a guard house.
The kids absolutely loved the fort. There were guides there to share information about the buildings and the lifestyle back then. The blacksmith was a huge hit (we could hardly pry the kids away from there!) And of course, they all had to try on the armor.
Next we went to visit the replicas of the three ships that brought settlers to the Virginia colony: the Susan Constant, the Discovery and the Godspeed. We were able to go on board all three ships.
Finally, we went through the reconstructed Powhatan Indian village. The recreated village was based on archaeological evidence from an excavated Paspahegh Indian site. I didn’t get any pictures, but the kids were able to try making rope for a fishing net, grind corn and play a traditional game. We wandered through all of the long houses. They were made by bending saplings and placing woven mats or bark over top of the saplings.
The kids really liked exploring all of the long houses which were full of fishing traps and nets, skins from all kinds of animals, bowls, tools, weapons, bags and things like that.
Below is a picture of Chief Powhatan in a longhouse. It is from a 1612 map of Virginia by John Smith:
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
Large version of this map can be viewed at Virtual Jamestown
If you have the opportunity, Jamestown Festival Park is definitely a fabulous place to take the kids. It was educational; there was tons to see and do!
You may be interested in these related posts:
- Native Americans of the Northeast (Part I: The Algonquian Indians)
- Native Americans of the Northeast (Part II, Iroquois Indians) where I shared our Wampum belt project and the printable you see below: