As I mentioned earlier, we took a trip to Williamsburg earlier this week. A local homeschool group (REACH for those of you who are local) coordinated getting a substantial homeschool discount at the Great Wolf Lodge (a lodge and indoor water park) during Colonial Williamsburg's Homeschool Week (when tickets are $5 instead of $33). I had been meaning to do this in years past, but had not been able to for various reasons. I am so glad that we made it this year!
We got down to the Great Wolf Lodge on Sunday around 3pm. Even though our room was not ready yet, they let you go into the waterpark. The boys loved it. Wave pool, water slides, indoor and outdoor pools, you name it. We bumped into 6 or 7 other families from the NoVaUnschoolers group. None of us knew that the others were coming down (obviously we need to coordinate better!)
Around 5pm, I went to check on our room. Turned out that instead of giving us the room next to my in-laws (like they had told us they would at check-in) we were down the hallway quite aways. I asked them about getting something closer (not making a big deal about it, but wondering if it was possible). They ended up upgrading our room! Instead of a suite with 2 queen beds, we wound up with a suite with 2 queen beds, a separate bedroom with a king bed and a nice little dining area! How cool is that!
We did the buffet for dinner (I don't recommend it…not bad, just not that great). That evening the boys checked out the arcade. They had fun, but found out that you need to score way more points to get anything decent (the arcade on the Boardwalk in Ocean City actually has decent prizes for a very small amount of points).
On Monday, we headed over to Colonial Williamsburg. I wasn't sure about how much the boys would enjoy it - although early American History is one of my favorites, previous attempts to interest the boys have met with mixed results and not too much enthusiasm. Turns out they did enjoy it!
We decided to rent costumes (based on comments from other homeschoolers who had gone before) and I am glad that we did. The boys liked carrying the wooden guns and they also received a letter with a list of tasks that they were supposed to do. This really added an extra dimension that the boys enjoyed. It was also nice because the reenactors paid special attention to them when they went anywhere - asking them questions or making comments.
Waiting for the Bus With Grandma Elms
We started off at the Magazine - Jason enjoyed seeing the guns and cannon.
Listening with Grandpa Elms
We then headed down to the Post Office for the boys first task. They were to take a letter to the Printer. They delivered the letter and the printer talked with them and joked a bit. The Print Shop was really neat (one of my favorites). You don't really think about how small each of those letters were that needed to be individually type set. Or realize how time intensive it was inking and printing each sheet by hand.
We then went to pick up our box lunches. There we got to meet the Magistrate. He was showing how to write with a quill and ink and a little bit about olden script (how S's often looked like f's).
Stopped by the Silversmith and learned how they hammer silver (the boys were fascinated by seeing bar of silver that was used to create a ladle. Then stopped by the blacksmith and the foundry. The foundry was really neat - he explained how sand molds were created and how pewter was poured to create candlesticks, plates and such. He poured molten pewter and created a spoon. I was really surprised at how quickly it hardened - almost instantly. He illustrated how soft pewter was by bending the spoon and then he dipped the spoon back in the molten pewter and it melted looking like acid had eaten it away. Jason tried to bend a spoon, but was not strong enough. I think that Jason thought that the spoon had gotten harder as it cooled because he looked really surprised when the re-enactor proceeded to bend it with no effort.
Working the Bellows at the Foundry
I would love to come back sometime without the kids just so I could actually sit and listen to some of the presentations (since we were here for the boys, we stayed as long as they wanted to…Jason did sit through the talk at the Magazine and found it interesting).
Some neat things we learned:
- Upper case letters got their name because capital letters were kept in the upper case (up on the wall) in the print shop. Lower case letters were kept out on the tables for easier access.
- Smith means to hit with a hammer - hence "goldsmith", "silversmith" and "blacksmith" (which deals with "black" metals)
- Foundry is based on the Latin fundere which means "to pour" or "to melt". This is why you do not have "coppersmiths" or "pewtersmiths" - these metals were more economically handled by pouring into molds.
Stayed at Colonial Williamsburg until around 3:30 then headed back to Great Wolf Lodge and more water fun. The boys got pizza from the Pizza Hut express in the lobby (gee, mom, this place really does have everything!) while the Jeff and his Dad ran out to Pierce's Barbeque for some great food.
Slept in the next morning and stopped by IHOP before heading back home. All in all a really fun family trip.