Economy & Trades, Colonial Williamsburg, Day 4

Day four was another one of my favorite days in Virginia.

We started the day in the basement of The Brick House Tavern(our hotel). There we met our first “Person of the Past,” Mr. Greenhow.

Brick House TavernMr. Greenhow is the owner of the Greenhow shop in Williamsburg.

Colonial WilliamsburgHe discussed all of the issues of colonial trade. Money was very rare in colonial times. They did not have paper money, only money made of precious metals. Thus, credit was often used in the colonies. When coin was used, the shop owner always had scales in the store. Value was determined by the weight of the coin(the weight of the precious metal).

WilliamsburgIf the total was only have the cost of the coin, the coin was cut in half and one half was returned to the customer in change. Often they cut their coins into 8 pieces, thus money often being called “pieces of eight.”

After Mr. Greenhow’s presentation and a few lesson presentations, we were left to visit the tradeshops on our own. This was so much fun! Williamsburg has many working trade shops in town. The items that are made in these shops are made the way they would have been in the 18th century.

WilliamsburgThe Shoemaker

WilliamsburgThe weaver

Williamsburg Trade Shop



The Wheeler. Interesting fact: This is the last hand made wheeler in the United States. They, like all of the other trade shops, are actual working shops. They are backlogged 3 years right now due to the fact they are the last ones left.

WilliamsburgThe Blacksmith – He is making a golf club putter!

WilliamsburgThe Silversmith – I watched him make a letter “K” charm. I later bought it! I will post pictures of it. Interesting fact: Paul Revere was a silversmith(and he had 16 children! 3 were named John, 2 were named Mary, and 2 were named Elizabeth. Many of the repeat names did not live past infancy.)






The Wig-Maker. There were often signs outside the shops that were just pictures. This was so illiterate people could know what the store was for.

Dinner that evening was at Shield’s Tavern. The food in Williamsburg was wonderful!

That evening we saw a program called Papa Said, Mama Said. It consisted of African story tellers telling some of their “lesson” stories. Again, no photography or video allowed :o(

When we got out of the program it was storming like crazy! I felt like I was back in Oklahoma again!

Coming up Next: Day 5: Road to Revolution!!


Daily Life and Social Graces, Williamsburg, Virginia, Day 3

Day three was all about the social lives of the people in the 18th Century. They had a very defined social system. We had the privilidge of touring 3 18th century homes that were examples of the three main social classes.

The first home we toured was the Benjamin Powell HouseWilliamsburg, VirginiaThis was an example of a family that was fairly well off, but not gentry. They were called “Middlings” Today they would be considered upper-middle class.

Colonial WilliamsburgAt the Powell home we learned about the social practice of having a dinner party. Did you know in Colonial times they did not pass food from person to person? Instead, they passed their plates and each person was responsible for putting a food item on that plate. It got pretty confusing!

Colonial WilliamsburgThey had two mattresses on all of their beds, one made of horse hair(for summer) and one made with feathers(for winter). The hangings were for summer to keep the bugs out! Also, before they made sure their sheets were always tight around their mattress so that bed bugs wouldn’t get out and bite them, thus the phrase “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” was born!

WilliamsburgThis was, essentially, their bathroom. It is located in the bedroom. The top is the washbasin and the bottom is the chamber pot.

WilliamsburgTheir kitchens were always in a separate building outside of the house. It was way to hot in the Virginia summers to have a kitchen indoors. Also, the smoke associated with an open fire would not be very comfortable indoors. The cook(most likely a slave) lived in the kitchen.

WilliamsburgSlaves were very important to daily life in Virginia. Slaves were often tutors to the white children.

Before we left the Powell house we got to play a few games. The first was a game that the slave children would play with sticks.

The second, and one of my personal favorites, was the rolling hoop game. We had a blast playing this game!!


After the Powell House, we moved on to the “Higher Class.” We visited the Peyton Randolph house. Mr. Randolph was a member of the “Gentry.”

Colonial WilliamsburgThe house was painted red because red was the most expensive paint color back in the day. Painting the house red was a sign of wealth and power.

Colonial WilliamsburgThe red color is present inside the house as well.

This is a closet or storage room.

Dining area is Much fancier!!

After touring the Randolph house, we had lunch at Chowning’s Tavern. We had some GREAT Virginia BBQ.

After lunch, we got a much different view of Virginia life. We traveled to Great Hopes Plantation and saw how a rural farmer would have lived.

Colonial Williamsburg

One thing was immediately evident. Life on the plantations was much more difficult than Gentry or Middling life.  That, and they relied much more on slave labor.

Tobacco was a major crop for Virginia. While we were visiting the plantation, we inspected the tobacco plants for worms. This was a difficult task and it was so HOT. I cannot imagine doing that ever single day.

tobacco farm We then toured the slave quarters.

Great Hopes PlantationGreat Hopes Plantation

I have some great video that I need to figure out how to post. We had a great guide who taught us all about the way slaves coped with their lives on the plantations. He told us stories and taught us songs. I bought a great CD called From Ear to Ear that has many African songs, I also got Under the African Sky which is a CD of African stories. I think my students are really going to love them.

Slaves did have some(very little) opportunity to earn money. They often had a garden and would sell their produce in town.

This was often frowned upon by the master, but at the same time, it was food he did not have to provide them.

Our time at Great Hopes Plantation was very eye-opening. Many Africans did not even make it to Virginia and the small amount that did faced a rough life. A popular misconception is that all the Africans that were taken were uneducated. That is completely false. Many were doctors and scholars in their country. We heard a lot of sad stories at Great Hopes.

That evening was our first free evening. Me and several of the teachers booked an evening program called “Ghosts Among Us.” Which told the ghost stories of Williamsburg. Before our program, we went down to Merchant’s Square and got something to snack on.

WilliamsburgAfter the tour we met up again for some GREAT seafood at a resteraunt called Barrett’s. Virginia, being so close to the coast, has yummy seafood!

Here is a picture of us right before walking back to the hotel:

It was a very tiring, and very HOT day(105 degrees and 87% humidity!!). Once again I went to bed, completely and totally exhausted!!




Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, Day 2, Williamsburg, Virginia

Day two was an inside day, which was okay with us because we were still exhausted from Jamestown. We got so much information that our brains needed a rest as well. We got a happy surprise that morning: Our stipends!! Woohoo!! Each of us received $365 to spend in our classroom. For an Oklahoma teacher, this is a huge deal. The most I have ever gotten to spend in my classroom was 50 dollars one year from the PTA. Usually, we get zero, zilch, nill to spend. We are expected to buy our own supplies, so this made me VERY happy :o)

As I said, this was an inside, curriculum development day. We started out at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. We got several lesson ideas for using primary sources in our classroom. We also got to see some famous paintings. Do these look familiar to you?

This is a famous painting of George Washington during his time leading the troops in the American Revolution. This photo is in our textbook! I thought that was pretty cool. Interesting fact: The photo depicts Washington with a blue jacket and tan trim. This is incorrect. That was the uniform for soldiers coming from New York. Washington would have worn a blue jacket with red trim, as that was the color for the Virginia soldiers. It was painted this way to show him not as a “Virginian” but as a man all colonists could identify with. Interesting, eh?

Our third president, Thomas Jefferson. Another well known painting.

Another famous painting of George Washington.

Anyone know who this one is? This is another painting that is featured in our 5th grade textbook. It’s Captain John Smith, Governor of Jamestown.

When we were through at the museum, we continued on to the Bruton Heights School. Here we learned about 18th century fashion and dress.

These were worn on the hips by the upper class women, what they called The Gentry.

On the far left, we have a Gentry gentleman, then a gentry man in night clothes, a gentry lady, a “Middling”(or middle class) lady, a middling man, and the working class.

Our program that evening was all about archaeology. We were given a “dig site” and we studied the artifacts.

Our program finished around 8:00 which was way to early to go to bed when you’re in a place like Williamsburg! So, we headed over to the Williamsburg lodge and visited.

We had a great time!! I headed back to my hotel room with three other teachers who turned in “early” at 10:30.

Colonial Williamsburg

The end of another exhausting day!! Day 3 is Exploring Williamsburg!


Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, Day 1, Jamestown

As if our arrival wasn’t overwhelming enough, our first day was at the Jamestown settlement. This is a place I have been wanting to go for most of my life! I was so excited to be going to such a great place on the first day.

We met for breakfast at the Williamsburg Lodge at 7:30 that morning. We then loaded the bus and began our trip to the Jamestown Settlement. The Jamestown Settlement is a historical reproduction of what the original settlement may have looked like. It is not on the actual location of the original Jamestown(we went there later).

Our tour started at the Powhatan Village. The Powhatan were the original natives of this area of Virginia. They are most known for being the tribe of Pocahontas.

We went inside one of the homes and learned about their daily life.

Like most tribes, they Powhatan were not wasteful. They used every resource they had to the fullest.

In the year 1607, the Virginia Company sent a group of settlers to Virginia in order to establish a prosperous colony. They had pretty much one thing in mind. $$$$$$.

They sent the settlers on three ships:

The Susan Constant

JamestownThe Godspeed

Jamestownand The Discovery


Can you imagine spending 5 months on one of these ships!?!? Especially one of the two smaller ones. It was not a fun trip.

After five tough months at sea, the three ships docked in Virginia and established the Jamestown settlement. It probably looked something like this when completed.


This guy gave us a demonstration of a musket firing. Very cool.


We moved on from the Jamestown Settlement to Historic Jamestown, the actual site of the first permanent English settlement in America.

Jamestown is difficult to access and, honestly, not a very good place for a settlement. Here’s why:

JamestownIT IS SWAMPY!! Jamestown is actually an island so we had to cross over a bridge of this swampy-ness to get there.

There are some places in this country that have their own energy. I say that they’re filled with “ghosts.” Jamestown is definitely one of those places.

Life in Jamestown was not easy. Most people who lived there died. If it was not for the ships constantly sending new settlers, the colony would not have survived.

The crosses mark graves that were found during excavation.

During our time at Jamestown, they were excavating the origianl 1607 church. This has been named the top archaeological finds in the last decade. Where this guy is standing is the alter, where Pocahontas would have married John Rolfe.

A second church was built later in the history of the settlement and it is still standing today(Some of it has been reconstructed, but some is original).

Life in Jamestown was extremely difficult. Many of the hardships(though not all) were due to constant attacks by the Powhatan tribe. Temporary peace was brought about by the marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe.

JamestownThe colony would probably not have survived without the leadership of John Smith. There is a statue of him, looking out over the James River.

JamestownJamestownThe day we spent at Jamestown was amazing, but it was H-O-T. It was 105 degrees with 87 percent humidity. It was miserable. I can only imagine what it would have been like for those early settlers.

That evening we went to Christina Cambell’s Tavern for dinner, where I had the most amazing crab cakes!

During dinner we were entertained by the daughter of Christina Cambell

WilliamsburgShe was a riot!! We were also entertained by some colonial music


That night we saw a witch trial!! It was so good! No cameras/photography allowed so no pictures.

Another late night, I collapsed into bed around 10:30, completely exhausted but ready for day 2!!

WILLIAMSBURG!!! The Arrival…

So, I’m just now getting around to post about Williamsburg. Sorry about that! The hotel I was staying at had NO internet access and barely any phone service.

This was a trip of a lifetime. It was like Disneyworld for history nerds. After almost missing my flight out of Tulsa(it took 45 minutes to get through security at 5:00 AM!!) I finally rolled into Richmond, Virginia around 1 o’clock. Upon my arrival I met up with 5 other teachers that would be attending the institute. I knew immediately I was with a fun bunch of teachers! We loaded the van that was waiting for us and were off!

Williamsburg is about 50 minutes east of Richmond, so I got to see a good amount of the area. Virginia is BEAUTIFUL! Lots of forest and greenery.

When we rolled into the Colonial area of Williamsburg, I was in history-teacher heaven. I felt like I had been transported back to the 18th century. Men in tri-cornered hats walked the streets along with ladies in dresses and large fancy hats.

We checked into our hotel: The Brick House Tavern. I was lucky enough to get a room to myself.

The Brick House Tavern


As soon as I dropped off my stuff I headed out into town. I was immediately confronted by a women who asked me if I had heard the news. I was taken aback “What news?” I asked. “There’s been a declaration! They are going to be reading it at the capitol. You don’t want to miss it!” She never broke character once. I felt like I was in 1776. I didn’t want to miss it! I hurried down the street.

Williamsburg, VirginiaI soon heard drums and fifes. They lead the way to the capitol where Patrick Henry spoke first. Then, the Declaration of Independence was read from the Capitol balcony.


After the Declaration was read, the town went crazy. All the patriots started firing their guns in the air and the cannons fired!


It gave me goosebumps!!

Soon after, I had to meet the rest of my group for dinner and an orientation meeting. I got back to my hotel, exhausted, around 10:30. As I fell asleep, all I could think was “I LOVE this place!!”


International Reading Convention, Day 2, Orlando, FL

Day two started with another, equally impressive, keynote speaker: Goldie Hawn. Like Tony Dungy I was very impressed at how involved she was with kids and her community. Very cool. The focus of her speech was bringing relaxation and meditation techniques into the classroom. It is a simple, but different idea. Kids these days are under pressure like they have never been before. My 5th graders take 7 standardized tests a year. These are what are more commonly called “high-stakes testing.” In the program she developed with educators, it teaches students self-calming techniques to reduce stress. It’s a very interesting concept and I plan on trying it a little bit in my room next year!

Goldie Hawn

I also have a video, but, as I said in a previous post, I am still trying to figure out this blog thing. I will post it when I figure it out :o)

Day two sessions were not all that great, but like day 1, we met some great authors.

R.L. Stein, author of the Goosebumps series

R.L. Stein

Judy Schachner, author of the Skippyjon Jones series:

Skippyjon JonesIf you have never read about Skippyjon, it’s hilarious! A must read even for adults. It’s about a Siamese cat who thinks he’s a chihuahua. It’s very cute.

I also met Tom Angleberger, author of The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda (very good book!) and Michael Buckley author of the NERDS series. I got autographed books, but no pictures, sorry! I DID however remember my camera on day two!

And of course, here is a picture of the loot from day two:

And that takes us to the end of day two. Day 3 is not near is exciting, so the post will be shorter.

See you next time!


International Reading Convention, Orlando, FL Day 1

Hello All! Welcome to my journey. I have had some amazing opportunities to travel this summer and I thought this would be the best way to share them with everyone. I’m a little late on the blog boat, so please bare with me.

Last month I had the chance to attend the International Reading Convention in Florida. It was AMAZING! Here are the highlights from day one.

Day one started with our keynote speaker. Tony Dungy, former coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He, along with his wife, wrote a children’s book about hard work and perseverance. I had no clue he was so involved with schools in his community! He was very cool

Tony Dungy

Sorry about the picture quality, I forgot my camera this day and was limited to a camera phone. Hopefully some of my co-workers will share theirs. My mother is shaking her head in shame right now, mark my words.

After the opening session we RAN to our next speaker: Jeff Kinney author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. If you have elementary school students you know how HUGE the Wimpy Kid books have become. I was starstruck! Unlike the Tony Dungy speech, we got to this one early enough to get GREAT seats.

Jeff Kinney

He was very cool and very normal. He signed books and took pictures happily afterward. Again, I will have to get the pictures from a friend due to no camera(Sorry, Mom!!!).

After a couple other informative(but not nearly as exciting!) sessions I headed to…..THE EXHIBIT HALL! This place was a teachers dream. Free stuff EVERYWHERE! By the end of the day I had two bags FULL of supplies for my classroom. Glad I packed that extra(empty!) suitcase.

Here is my loot from day one:

Day one completely wore us out, but we still went swimming in the awesome hotel pool that night. Needless to say, we slept well.

Oh, and one more thing:

At our hotel there is a T.V. in the bathroom MIRROR! How cool is that?

Day 2 coming tomorrow. G’Night everyone!