Monday, 6 January 2014

Jamestown settlement

While in Williamsburg we spent two days exploring Jamestown as that is where we are in our history lessons.  We spent the day touring Historic James town and learning the amazing story and survival of the very first successful English colony.

the first thing we did when we arrived in Jamestown is drive the 2 mile loop around the area that gave the children an idea of the area and landscape of what the first English settlers were dealing with.

From the visitor center which as an excellent movie and museum to walk through we entered the Powhatan Indian village

Kids got to investigate what their houses might have looked like on the outside

and on the inside.

Lots of hands on activities like this log and pestle using for turning corn into corn meal.

Kids tried scraping deer hide using sharpened shells.  It was harder than it looked, however after talking with interpretative guides who said this process would be done immediately after a kill and would be much easier

However even with older hide, the guide said a couple of days with a school group and the hair would be completely removed:)

We got to talk to a few interpretive guides who explained various things that we saw at the site

Watched them cook a Indian stew mostly of corn

Next we saw how Indians in this area made canoes which looked nothing like the ones you see on TV shows.  They would select a tree and knock it down, but since they did not have axes ( or any steel blades) they would strip the bark from the lower part of the tree and slowing burn around the bottom of the tree until it fall down, this also helped to dry out the tree and prepare it for the next step.

burning our the inside of the log.  Indians used a slow fire and then used shells to scrape out the burnt middle

One log canoe complete.  The interpretative guides said they are very sturdy and  do not easily tip over.

Kids played some indian games that would improve they eye hand coordination

One of the interpretive guides dressed as a Powhatan Indian.  Not sure how he remained outside in this custom as this was a very cold day

Next we walked to the Jamestown fort 

The first English settlers were all men and most were of Gentleman status and therefore many did not have any skills to survive in this climate.  Women did not arrive until later.

Some of the houses that were constructed.  Jamestown burned down at least 3 X before permanently moving to Williamsburg 

Kids trying on the type the helmets and amour worn during this period.  

Seeing an operational kitchen and talking about how little food supplies there were in the area.  

Meeting one of the Governors of Jamestown who had the nicest house and furniture that he brought from England.

Meeting one of the guards of the forts and listening to the talk on the defense of the fort and how they dealt with the Indians attacks.

We also got to see them fire a gun and boy was it LOUD!

Kids building a fence, we have seen this process before when we lived in the UK

Inside the church 

Jamestown tried many different things to make the venture profitable i.e. lumbar, glass blowing and all failed.  Until John Rolfe was able to grow tobacco.  It wasn't long before everyone wanted to grow tobacco and the governor had to order people to save some farm land for actual crops of food.

Seeing how the tobaco was shipped back to England

Next we visited the 3 reconstructed ships that carried the settlers to America.   These ships were very small and cramped

Meeting the interpretive crew who explained how uncomfortable this journey was for the settlers.

The hull of the ship, looks spacious, except during the sea voyage the hull would be filled with supplies the settlers would need.  During storms the settlers would be stuck down below without light for several days and there is no bathroom in there:(

Kids exploring the top of the ship where most of the sailors would hang out.

The top crew men would be able to sleep in better quarters

The captains quarter had a little deck attached to his room

what a hull would look like when filled with supplies.

How the settlers would have to sleep, their rolling mats on top or barrels or wooden chests.  We were told that in some areas the barrels and chests were packed so high that there would only be a crawl space on top for the settlers to lay out their mats.

Enjoying the view from the Captains quarters deck

We had a great time exploring Jamestown settlement and it gave the children a real idea at how hard it must have been to survive in this area.  This visit will be wonderful to reflect back on as we are studying Jamestown.


  1. Looks like a great trip! I read a book about a girl who traveled from England to America on one of the first ships. It gave a vivid description about the conditions on the boat and made me sooooooo glad that I did not have to do make such a trip.

  2. When my kids were young, they liked the Jamestown settlement more than Williamsburg.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing all the wonderful pictures. I am going to share the with my children.

  4. Oh, I loved this adventure and the pictures were awesome. I love your hands on teaching. The reason I learn a lot from your posts is because the pictures and explanations tell the story. I am a visual learner.
    I have ancestors that came over from England and there descriptions of the living conditions on board a ship was horrendous. We are way blessed in our world of today.
    Blessings and hugs!

  5. My kids favorite part of that trip was trying on the armor when we went.