In preparation for our trip to Virginia's Historic Triangle, I collected quite a few books about Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. The girls have also enjoyed several television programs and movies related to this time period. I wanted to highlight those for you in this post because these resources can undoubtedly enhance a family trip to the Historic Triangle.
Meg and Clare are huge fans of the old PBS show Liberty Kids. The series focuses on the Revolutionary War and is very well done. Anne, who is five-years-old, is not yet a fan, though she is known to quote memorable lines, such as "Give me liberty, or give me death." I do think the series is best suited for kids 7 and up.
Upon returning from Williamsburg, we watched the American Girl movie Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. This movie follows a Williamsburg merchant's daughter as those around her debate whether to be Patriots or Loyalists. Her best friend Elizabeth is from a British family very loyal to the crown. Clare, in particular, loved this movie, but all the girls tried to imitate the manners Felicity and Elizabeth learned during their tea party lessons. Undoubtedly, the Felicity book series would also be an excellent way to learn about Williamsburg, but we have not read the series as a whole. Meg has enjoyed the Felicity mystery books, which you can find here and here, though a description of tar and feathering did disturb her.
Meg and Clare are huge fans of the If You Lived... books and long before our trip, they were already enthusiastic readers of the book If You Lived in Colonial Times. We added If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days to our repertoire for our trip. We would also recommend If You Lived At the Time of the American Revolution and If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution. The latter was a particular favorite of Meg's for a couple of years. She read it over and over again and would spontaneously discuss aspects of the Constitutional debates to our great surprise.
For my own reading in Williamsburg, I found Patriot's Dream written by Elizabeth Peters writing as Barbara Michaels. Of course, Elizabeth Peters' actual name was Barbara Mertz, but she reserved that name for her academic writing. She wrote the Amelia Peabody mysteries under the name Elizabeth Peters. That series is one of my favorite mystery series of all time.
Patriot's Dream was written in 1976 as the nation celebrated the bicentennial. It contains a modern day story set in Williamsburg the summer of 1976 and a story set 200 years earlier. The Revolutionary War period story is full of well-researched detail that explores the moral conflict of slave owners who are fighting for their own liberty from England. I found this story incredibly informative. I was less fond of the modern story. Regardless, this book was great to read while visiting Williamsburg. It is fun to read about Duke of Gloucester Street in the book after having spent the day walking Duke of Gloucester Street.
To prepare for Jamestown, Meg and Clare highly recommend the My America series of books on Jamestown. The first book is Our Strange New Land. The second book is The Starving Time. The third book is Season of Promise.
In an effort to create a little educational fun for Clare on our trip, I located two resources to create adventures for her. William & Mary, the University of Kentucky School of Education and the Library of Congress have created Historical Scene Investigations that allow students to use primary resources to investigate historical mysteries. The various cases are here. One of the case files happens to be the cause of the Starving Time at Jamestown. I printed out the problem and the documents for Clare and placed them in a folder to make for easy access during the trip.
I also purchased and printed out Project Based Learning: Building a Colony in the New World, which is available on Teachers Pay Teachers. This fantastic package allows kids to map out their colony and report back to the king about the animals found and possible crops that can be grown in the new colony. I did not make this package or the Historical Scene Investigation "required work" for Clare. I simply packaged them as interestingly as I could and presented them to her as a way to have more fun with the trip. She did what she wanted to do and she was genuinely interested in the projects.
This collection of the resources should prove helpful in either preparing for a similar trip to Virginia's Historic Triangle or simply to learn about these times and events wherever you are. Let me know in the comments if you have any additional resources to recommend.