Everywhere you turn this summer, you’ll see kids interacting with our costumed interpreters. From hands-on activities inside our trades to 18th-century dancing lessons to milking our cow—you never know what’s waiting around the next corner!
Not all of these new activities are advertised in your Daily Map & Program Guide as they are often spontaneous and dependent on the weather. Our hope is for you to “expect the unexpected” so those memorable moments will catch you by surprise. Almost all of them take place in areas that require your CW ticket or pass.
INCLUDED IN ADMISSION
Dancing! Our Junior Interpreters and Youth Ensemble Dancers are waiting to show you and your family colonial-style Country Dancing and possibly even some specialty dances. These activities take place Sunday – Thursday throughout the Historic Area. Our costumed interpreters will round up the little ones and you may also hear a Fifer and Drummer signaling the fun.
Put Out Fires! Every afternoon at 2:30 and then again at 3, listen for the clanging of the bells and cries for help in Market Square. Our military programs will ask for every able-bodied person within hailing distance to help put out a “fire.” Kids will get to learn what it was like to be a part of a colonial community in an emergency by lining up as part of the bucket brigade. A lucky few may also get to take a turn at pumping water from the fire engine. It’s a fun way to cool off on those hot summer days! Read more about the history of our fire engine here.
One-on-One Time with Nation Builders! These activities vary from day to day but take place behind the Mary Stith House. On Thursday mornings, join the Young Mrs. Washington and her Brother Bartholomew Dandridge beside the Lumber House as they talk about travel in the 18th century and answer questions about horses. Later in the afternoon, join the top secret meeting with Mr. Madison and Mr. Jefferson as they give a lesson in cyphering. If you miss that session, you may see them again Saturday morning!
Saturday afternoons, Young Martha Washington will be out again, this time to enlist help to make the flag that Congress adopted on June 14, 1777 for our country. It has 13 red and white stripes and 13 white stars on a sea of blue. Kids will get to help her sew on patches and when they’re done, write their name and where they’re from!
Join Matriarch Edith Cumbo for storytelling. She’ll use the names of her young audience in her Call and Response work rhythms, songs and games to prepare children for their daily chores.
Puppets! Come enjoy the wild and hilarious antics of the ever immortal Punch and his wife Joan in a show that is fun for all ages. We’re working to build a shaded structure in our outdoor Playbooth Theater. For now, we’re holding these puppet shows behind the Tucker House most mornings at 11 a.m.
Games! Can you find your way out of our live-sized maze behind the Governor’s Palace? It’s in the northwest corner of the property and is a family favorite. The goal is to find your way into the center of the maze and then back out again. While there are shortcuts, the challenge is to do so while staying on the path within the hedges!
From Hoop and Stick to war games with toy soldiers—you’re also likely to be asked to join in a little friendly competition around town. Some of the busiest areas for these interactions are the Market House, the shady area by Chowning’s Tavern, and another shady spot beside the Lumber House Ticket Office.
Get to Work! Last week, we outlined several amazing hands-on opportunities for kids inside our historic trade sites. We’re ready to put kids to work! They can help us tread clay and build a brick wall at the Brickyard. Or help our historic gardeners tend to their plants and even give them a little water. Or they might get to try on military equipment like cartridge pouches and soldiers’ knapsacks when they stop by the Military Artificers.
Boat Races! On select Wednesdays, you can join the “Great Colonial Boat Race” in the stream behind the Printers and Bookbinders. Each child will get to “select” a boat from our fleet of about 15 to enter in the race. These boats were constructed by the Coopers and the Joiners, with the sails crafted by the Weavers. We expect to have more trades participate throughout the summer. Not only does the winner get bragging rights, he or she also gets a special certificate!
Milk the Cow! Join our ox drivers and other members of the Rare Breeds Staff between 2 and 2:30 each afternoon behind the Randolph House. They’ll milk our cow, Savannah and take questions from the crowd about what it was like to farm in the 18th century and what makes the animals in our Rare Breeds Program so special.
Help with Chores! At the Powell House: Explore what lies beyond the gate. Make the bed or pass the plates. Step a dance, or learn a game. No two days are quite the same.
This site has a little of everything and you can explore and discover at your own pace. Inside the Powell Lumber House, you’ll find a coloring station, clothing to try on, games to try, and a cypher wheel quest to help us find Hannah’s lost dancing shoe. You may also find rhythm instruments in the garden and our kitchen may be open where you can help to prepare Mr. Powell’s dinner!
REQUIRES AN EXTRA TICKET OR FREE RESERVATION
Archaeology Kids DIG! “DIG! Kids, Dirt & Discovery,” is a 50-minute, hands-on, excavation engaging 5 to 16 year olds in learning about the past. We are digging in an early 1700s cellar—the basement of Archibald Blair’s “Storehouse.” The site has been dug before, though, in the 1940s. At the time, a decision not to reconstruct the store resulted in the dirt and artifacts being tossed back in to the cellar. Technically we are “re-excavating” a site and it’s a great learning opportunity for children. Read more here.
Young Apprentice This program is recommended for kids ages 8 to 14 and each child must be accompanied by a ticketed adult, meaning an adult must also purchase a ticket and escort the young apprentice. These boys and girls will be able to visit three trade shops during their time, which rotate based on specific days of the week. Not only will they get a hands-on lesson from our journeymen and women, they’ll also get to make and take home a souvenir. Read more here.
A very special thank you to Fred Blystone for being a big kid and getting out there to capture some of these awesome moments with our younger guests! Make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and tag us in your pics with #colonialwilliamburg. We may feature some of your images next time!