In full disclosure, we were provided with tickets to Colonial Williamsburg as part of Kingsmill Resort’s Ultimate Family Fun package. All thoughts and opinions are our own. We appreciate their support helping us share information about this Williamsburg family attraction.
Dig into where you are going and you never know what treasures you may find.
Such is the case when I went digging for information about Colonial Williamsburg. I knew as guests of Kingsmill Resort we would have the opportunity to visit Colonial Williamsburg, but I didn’t know much about this Williamsburg family attraction. I was curious and on a mission to find out what they had that might interest my kids in history. I dug into the Colonial Williamsburg site and that’s when I hit the gold mine.
One of the free activities for Colonial Williamsburg ticket holders is DIG! Kids, Dirt & Discovery. I instantly knew my boys would love it, especially my oldest who is really into archaeology. With a little more research, the boys and I were ready for a day of historic adventures.
About Colonial Williamsburg
From the Colonial Williamsburg site.
Discover Colonial Williamsburg and become a citizen of the Revolutionary City. Engage with the local community and experience firsthand the daily struggles of wartime. Explore our art museums, unleash your kids’ inner colonists, tee off a game of golf, or relax and unwind at the Spa. Stay at one of the official Colonial Williamsburg hotels, with a variety of opportunities to shop and dine, and you’ll never want to leave.
Colonial Williamsburg is located at 101 Visitor Center Drive in Williamsburg, Virginia. Free parking is available and complimentary shuttle buses take you from the main building to the grounds to explore the buildings and areas. Single day tickets start at $20.49 for children and $40.99 for adults. Admission includes exploring all the Colonial Williamsburg historic sites and trade shops, including two art museums.
Our Favorite Colonial Williamsburg Activity for Kids, DIG! Kids, Dirt & Discovery
There is a REAL archaeological dig happening at Colonial Williamsburg and your kids can participate in the dig for FREE! Tickets are required, but you can register once you’ve bought your tickets. The digs happen throughout the day. Each session is 1 hour long.
At the dig site, an 18th-century store, children ages 5 – 16 can become archaeologists-in-training. Littler kids can dig in a special sand box with buried treasures. Parents must remain with their children as they dig, but they do not need a dig activity ticket. Parents can sit under a shaded pavillion area with tables.
The DIG! Kids, Dirt & Discovery was my boys’ favorite activity. As your kids wait in the dig area for their group’s turn to begin, they’ll learn about just what they can expect to find from pictures and a group discussion.
When it’s time to dig, kids will pick one of three areas they want to dig in. Each child is given gloves, a digging tool, dustpan, and a pail. Kids gather small piles of dirt that they believe contain artifacts. The dirt is collected in the pails, as much as kids want over a 20 minute period, and then dumped onto a sieve over a wheelbarrow.
Children work in their teams to gently move the dirt over the sieve. Loose dirt falls through to the wheelbarrow while potential artifacts are put to the side.
With the artifacts uncovered, it’s time for the kids to learn more about what they have found. Guides help the kids separate their finds into collections of glass, metals, bones, and other items. Kids made their guesses to identify what they had found. Was it a bone from an animal? Could that be the glass from a window? Was that a tooth? With the guides’ help my boys learned more about what they had found and how that artifact came to be there. At ages 8, 10, and 11, this was an activity that held all of their attention.
Just one more note about the DIG! Kids, Dirt & Discovery program. This is an active archaeological dig site. While your kids will likely discover some neat artifacts: all the artifacts remain with the guides for further examination. Some will go on exhibit in a separate area of Colonial Williamsburg. You never know though on a future visit to Colonial Williamsburg, you just may see that artifact your kids discovered.
6 Additional Ways Your Family Can Dig into History at Colonial Williamsburg
Examine the creations of the Silversmith
One of the first areas we explored at Colonial Williamsburg was the Silversmith. In this shop we saw how silver and other metals were transformed into cups, teapots, spoons, and other kitchenware items. Silver was a sign of wealth. For families from the upper class a skilled silversmith would create elegant kitchenware engraved with their owner’s crests, coats of arms, or monograms. Visitors are encouraged to pick up and examine the creations for themselves.
Visit the Wigmaker
In Colonial times, wearing a wig was a sign of wealth. Having a wig, especially for men, defined the men as being prestigious and worthy of respect. Strand by strand, we watched the wigmaker working on different wigs. We learned how much work goes into making a wig, the patience needed from it, and how the wigmakers made different styles. As you visit the wigmaker, you can see a collection the wigmakers have made as well as ask questions.
Tour the Capital building and pretend to preside over a case
Exploring the Capitol building of Virginia was a history lesson in itself. We learned about the beginnings of our government, how our rights were formed, and how some court cases were held. My youngest even took a turn sitting at the bench to see what it would be like to preside over a case.
See what it was like to print papers in the Printing Office
Before the internet and the ability to mass produce works, books, newspapers, and pamphlets had to be printed one at a time. As we watched the printmakers prepare type to be printed and the ink to print them, we couldn’t help but be in amazement. Some of the letters are so small, it’s a wonder that the printmakers could tell one letter apart from the next well enough not to make any mistakes.
Test the tools of the Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop & Public Armoury
We entered the blacksmith shop and learned how in colonial times weapons, tools, and hardware were made from iron in a forge. Just like back then you can see how iron is heated from a fire and how it’s shaped into something useful. Items safe enough to touch are left out for kids and visitors to try out and play with.
Watch a demonstration!
Throughout the Colonial Williamsburg grounds, you can watch a variety of live demonstrations that bring you back to colonial times. You might even find you get caught up in being part of one yourself.
On your trip to Williamsburg, Virginia make sure you give yourself time to explore Colonial Williamsburg. Whether it’s a structured activity, exploring the grounds, or watching a demonstration, you’re going to want enough time to see it all.
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Click over to see the rest of our Family Travel to Williamsburg, Virginia series for help in planning your family vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia.
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