Visiting Jamestown Settlement

We got a chance to visit Jamestown Settlement on our recent vacation to Colonial Williamsburg.  Before going, we had read that most people take 1 1/2 hours in the museum and 1 1/2 hours with the settlements and ships.  On the advice of my mom, we decided to bypass the museum to ensure we had enough time on everything else.  I’m glad we did.  It took us more than 3 hours just to get through the settlements and ships.  We were burned out at that point and spent no time in the museum.  I’m sure it is very interesting, but it will have to wait for a future trip.

Jamestown Settlement

We wanted to go to Jamestown Settlement prior to Williamsburg because it is much representing a much earlier time period than Williamsburg.

There was a homeschool discount available when we were there.  After showing our HSLDA card, we paid $6.50 per person (adults and kids).  It never hurts to ask for a homeschool discount.

At the Jamestown settlement, there is a Native American village, replicas of the ships that first sailed to Jamestown, and a reconstruction of the original Jamestown settlement.  I thouht I’d share some of the kids’ favorites.

What the kids liked:

In the Powhatan village:

  • people working that you could talk to
  • going inside the houses
  • the specifics to this geographic location near the ocean (we’re been to Native American villages at Meadowcroft and Natural Bridge)

Canoeing in the Powhatan Village


  • going into the cabins and below deck
  • moving the rudder
  • lying down on the really small beds
  • that they actually sail the ships during the year

Jamestown Settlement:

  • April Fool’s Joke  (Ruthie loved that she came up with an April Fool’s joke for us to share on facebook.  We shared this photo of our “new” home.)

Our new home (April Fool's joke by Ruthie)

  • the demonstration of the musket being fired
  • wearing the armor (that we saw on Drive Thru History)

Wearing the armor

Jamestown Settlement was a great way to start our Williamsburg area vacation.  (It also was apparently where I took more pictures than all of Colonial Williamsburg.)

the ocean view at Jamestown

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Visiting Colonial Williamsburg

We recently went on an awesome vacation to Colonial Williamsburg.  (If you are unfamiliar with Colonial Williamsburg, it is a reconstruction of the city of Williamsburg at the time of the American Revolution.)  Our family had three fun-filled days in Williamsburg including lots of re-enactments, marching in the colonial army, and completing the spy mission, RevQuest.

Visiting Colonial Williamsburg

If you are a homeschool family visiting Williamsburg, remember to bring some sort of homeschool ID (we have cards from HSLDA) so that you can get the educator discount.  We were able to get our adult tickets for half price since we are home educators.  We heard about this ahead of time but did call to verify before we went as well.  We also really found that buying their refillable cups was a huge money saver.

Our children all were able to enjoy Williamsburg at ages 5, 7, 8, and 9.  I think our kids would enjoy Williamsburg even when they are older as well.  It seemed quite stroller friendly but would have been much more tiring with littler ones.

In the three days, we didn’t do probably half of what was offered.  We really loved the buildings of Colonial Williamsburg and seeing how things worked back then.  Part of the reason we did not get to visit every building in Williamsburg is that our kids asked great questions.  There were many stops where other families came and went while our family was still listening eagerly.

The more time you take at each stop, the more you will learn.  For example, at the cabinet maker, we listened as some kids from a school group went through and asked about simple machines.  They filled out a worksheet they had and were out the door.  The 4 little Hogans listened to all of this and more questions from other people.  Then they fired away with their own questions.  Because of this, we found out about secret compartments in a desk, how they make harpsichords, and much more that the man in the shop was not sharing with other families.

I noticed at many of the stops, once the people working there saw that you were not just a casual passerby, they go into much more detail or bring up topics that you didn’t even know to ask.

So if you take the trip, and I hope you do, don’t rush from one place to the next, take the time to really learn in each location.  It is always nice to leave while you are still wanting more.  Plus a few days before our visit, they restructured the ticket policy.  We were going to buy a 3 day pass.  Now that same pass, for the same price, is called “multi-day” and is good for the rest of the calendar year!  We hope to go back and see some of what we missed.

I feel like we could write a blog post on every location in Williamsburg, but I want you to make the trip.  I could not do a good enough job of describing everything anyway.

Below is a list of the places we visited and one thing that we learned.  The kids filled in most of these:

Governor’s Palace:  Govenor Dunmore (Whose real name was not Dunmore) left the Palace with all of the stuff still inside, so the colonists got many weapons and a lot of wealth.

 Kitchen – An old cow has yellow fat and a young cow has white fat.

Gunsmith and Foundry – They made the whole gun there.  I was amused when he said, quite literally, “We make the whole gun: lock, stock, and barrel.”

Brickmaker’s Yard – They made the mortar from oyster shells.

Cabinet Maker – They had desks with secret compartments.  The desk that the man was working on was modeled after one of the antiques that was in a local museum.  It had a secret compartment within a secret compartment.

Randolph House – The family had a lot of slaves, but most of them were not in the house.  Instead they were out on plantations that the family owned.

Cooper – Coopers don’t just make barrels, they also make buckets, butter churns, and anything else made with staves.

Magazine – Seargents and captains carried pikes and pole-arms so that they could be identified easily.

Great Hopes Plantation – When they build new building, they constructed it somewhere else, disassembled it, and then reassembled it in the final location.  They were using an open area at the plantation to build the new market building and it would be moved to the town when it was finished.  This is the way they would have done it in colonial times also.

Blacksmith and Armory – People in colonial times would specialize.  Some blacksmiths would make lots of kinds of things, but others would just be a nailer, or some other specialty.  A regular balcksmith could make 300-500 nails in a day, but a nailer could make 3,000 nails in one day.

Public Gaol (Jail) – If the jailer did not like you, he would make you clean the septic tank (it was the only building with indoor plumbing).

Milliner – A corset or a stay (from the 1700s) was not uncomfortable.  It actually supported the woman’s body and helped her keep good posture.  The idea that it was uncomfortable and injured women is a myth.

Silversmith – Most of the things people bought were made out of their own silver.  A customer would bring in silver or a silver item that they did not like anymore.  The silversmith would weigh it, make something new, and weigh it again.  He would keep some of the silver for himself as payment.

 Capitol – Virginia wrote a state constitution when they declared independence.  Many of the ideas from their state constitution were used in the U.S. Constitution (like the separation and balance of powers).

Geddy House – Woman did not play instruments other than the harpsichord or small guitar because they “should not lift their arms or contort their face”.

Military Camp – Open your mouth when there is going to be a loud noise because it helps equallize the pressure in your ears.

In our 3 days, we did not get to:

Playbooth, Wheelwright, Basket Maker, Bruton Parish Church, Weaver, Colonial Gardens, Shoemaker, Courthouse, Printing Office, Bindery, and Post Office, Wigmaker, Joiner, Apothecary, Wythe house, Hospital, Museums, Many Taverns and places to eat, and maybe some other places that I am forgetting.


There is a lot of talk of slavery on the tours and talks because 52% of the town’s population were slaves.  It is presented well, and I think it is a good reminder, but you should prepare your kids so they are not caught off guard.


In addition to the buildings we visited, remember that our kids also got to learn to march in formation, see skits in the streets, be a part of the army for a reenactment, and complete a spy mission called RevQuest.  This was an amazing part of our trip, but I wouldn’t have done it if we only had one day in Williamsburg.


Oh and there are lots of shops where you can buy Revolutionary style games, toys, clothes, and more.  At the Prentis shop, you can buy items that they actually make during the demos.  The prices there seem very high until you remember the hours of labor that it took to make the items.  Then they seem almost reasonable.

Visiting Colonial Williamsburg was yet another favorite family vacation.  We are looking forward to going back again!

Children’s Books On The Periodic Table

While we have been studying elements and the periodic table with our CC memory work, I wanted to find a few books at the library to go along with the topic.  We will also make element cookies.  Of all the books we checked out, only two really grabbed my children’s attention.  I wanted to shared our favorites in case you are heading to the library too.

Children's Books On The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table (by Scholastic in the “A True Book” series) has a really nice history of the periodic table.  In fact, Ruthie’s favorite part of the book was where it showed Mendeleev’s original version.  This book also includes lots of vocabulary terms we have recently memorized.  There are other True Books about elements, but our library did not have them.

The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! is a fun book about many different elements.  The illustrations help you remember characteristics of the elements.  The writing style of the book is quirky with each element’s page in the first person.  There actually is a newer version called The Complete Periodic Table: All the Elements with Style!, but our library has it on order still.  You also can buy Periodic Table flashcards which appear to have the same text and illustrations as the book (from the preview I could read on Amazon) with just a few words cut out to make it fit on the cards.  I don’t know if all the elements from the book are included on the flashcards though.

What books have your children enjoyed about the Periodic Table?  


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Resources On Origins From A Young Earth Perspective

We believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and that careful study of the Word clearly tells us that the universe is about 6,000 years old.  We would like to share some of our favorite resources that teach science from this Biblical perspective.

In Classical Conversations, our children learn definitions of the theory of evolution, uniformitarianism, and natural selection.  We don’t shy away from learning these terms, but instead study to see if they line up with God’s Word.

Resources on Origins from a Young Earth PerspectiveOne of the biggest and best resources for this topic is Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum.  For books that they sell, I included a link to their store since it can be cheaper than Amazon (especially if you are buying sets of books).  We also included the Amazon link if you prefer to buy from there.

The Theory of Evolution:

Yellow & Pink is a picture book about two wooden dolls laying out in the sun.  The dolls talk about how they came to be there.  One doll is convinced it is because of a chance happening while the other thinks they were created.  It is a very simple story to explain the complex idea of evolution.  Honestly, even a child can see how silly the theory of evolution sounds.

It’s Designed to Do What It Does Do is also a picture book.  This one points out that animals do what they are designed to do.  God created creatures according to their kind, and they reproduce according to their kind.  This book drives this point home with cute illustrations and a fun rhyme and rhythm.  (If you know the Buddy Davis song by the same title, you can even sing it.)  Here’s the book on Amazon if you prefer.

Catastrophism vs. Uniformitarianism:

For these topics, I really like to study Noah’s flood and Mount St. Helens.  Here are some resources about both of these.

Awesome Science:  Explore Mount St. Helens is a DVD that is part of a great series for kids.  It shows how our earth really does support the biblical account.  Some of the formations at Mount St. Helens formed in a matter of hours or days when evolutionists would have said they would take millions of years.  (There is an entire series of these DVDs are are quite well done if you are interested.)    (On Amazon, you can find the DVD here.)

N is for Noah is a spiral picture book about Noah’s flood.  The spiral format allows the reader to hold up the picture to a number of children while reading the content on the back of the page at the same time.  (I have all three books from this series.)  Here’s N is for Noah on Amazon.

Noah’s Ark:  Thinking Outside the Box is a book geared for older children and adults.  While a beautifully-illustrated book, the text is aimed at older readers with the latest research and information on answers to lots of different questions about the Ark and the Flood.  Noah’s Ark: Thinking Outside the Box is also available on Amazon.

 Natural Selection:

Natural Section is not the same thing as the Theory of Evolution in the sense that species lose genetic material in a region (change over time), but the species don’t turn into other species (molecules-to-man evolution).

For further reading on this topic, there is one chapter in The New Answers Book as well as a number of articles on Answers in Genesis’s site.  (The Answers Book is also on Amazon.)


General Resources for Studying Young Earth/Creation:

Answers magazine is packed with great information and a variety of topics.  There is always a kid’s magazine in the center of the regular magazine that our children love (they like the adult magazine too).  The next issue is about Mount St. Helens.  With this upcoming topic in CC, I’m excited for more reading about that catastrophe.  We have been getting this magazine for years and love every issue.

Answers in Genesis’s website has many free videos and articles as well as a number of resources for sale.  If you have questions about origins topics, this is a great place to start.

Answers in Genesis’s kids section has a number of great answers for kids as well as activities and videos.

The Creation Bible (for young children), The Answers Books for Kids, and The Answers Books (for adults) are all great resources as well.

Institute for Creation Research is another great site with its own resources as well.  Some of their articles are more technical than AiG’s site.


We shared a number of great resources in this post, but please remember that the greatest resource is the Bible, the only book written by an Author who was there.


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Element Cookies

One of my favorite activities from our first time through Cycle 3 was to make element cookies.

The first time around (when the kids were 6 and under), I bought ready-bake Pillsbury sugar cookies, a can of frosting, some food coloring, and a bag of m&ms.  I think I saw the original idea here, but I made it as simple as possible for myself with store-bought items.

(Side note:  Now that our home is gluten-free, I’m think of using gluten-free pancakes with frosting and m&ms.  If I have lots of time (ha!), I may even try the gluten-free sugar cookie recipe in my favorite cookbook.  I also need to look into gluten-free frosting options.  For other ideas, you could use peanut butter and nutella instead of frosting and dried raisins, chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips instead of m&ms.  I even thought about using toast instead of the cookies.)

We made element cookies with a red frosting nucleus, blue (m&m) protons, yellow neutrons, and green electrons.

Element Cookies

Here’s what we did:

For the first four elements, we reviewed the atomic number and mass for that element (from our Classical Conversations memory work).  We also reviewed the definition of the atomic number.

I had the kids figure out the number of protons, electrons, and neutrons so that we could decorate each cookie.

Remember:  the atomic number equals the number of protons and the number of electrons in a neutral atom.

To calculate the neutrons:  you have to subtract the atomic number from the atomic mass of each element.

For an example:

Lithium has an atomic number of 3.  There are 3 protons and 3 electrons.  The protons go in the nucleus of the atom (the red frosting on our cookies).  The electrons go on the white frosting.  The neutrons can be calculated by taking the atomic mass (7) and subtracting the atomic number (3).  There are 4 neutrons for Lithium.

I love this type of activity because you can have children of different levels practice different skills.

When we did this 3 years ago, it was the day Elijah was being introduced to subtraction.  The small subtraction questions were great for this.  You can see the simple hand-written worksheets I made for each element in this picture.  This time around, I will probably have Ruthie make the worksheets for the little boys as her handwriting practice.

Elijah with his cookies

Isaiah was still working on learning how to count and did a great job counting out his m&ms,

Isaiah frosting cookies

while Gideon (age 2) just had lots of cookie-eating practice (even before frosting the cookies).

Gideon eating cookies

This activity was so fun three years ago, and I can’t wait to do it again (gluten-free this time).

Ruthie with her plate of cookies

That day, the kids overloaded on milk and cookies.  I mean, you need to enjoy the fruits of your labor, right?