Jamestown Settlement - Group Tours and Programs - Descriptions
Jamestown Guided TourThis 2.5-hour tour is appropriate for all ages. Rate A.
In an experience packed with hands-on activities and engaging discussions, participants tour indoor exhibition galleries and three re-created outdoor living-history areas: the Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships, and James Fort.
In the Jamestown Settlement exhibition galleries, participants are introduced to three cultures – the Powhatan Indians, Africans and English – through interactive exhibits and scenic displays. As they explore the galleries with their guide, they’ll learn about the role Virginia’s cash crop, tobacco, played in the interactions and destinies of the three culture groups at Jamestown.
In the re-created Powhatan Indian village, participants may grind corn, scrape a deer hide, make cordage, and help make a canoe from a log, while learning the importance of natural resources to the Powhatan culture. In a Powhatan home (yehakin) or in the garden participants learn about roles within the family and tribe, and along the way a costumed interpreter shares a special skill with them, such as making stone or bone tools.
At the re-created 1607 ships, interpreters highlight significant aspects of early 17th-century ocean travel and exploration, particularly people such as Christopher Newport and John Smith, and events of the voyage that carried 104 men and boys to settle Jamestown in 1607. Before touring one of the ships, participants may try sailors’ arts of the time period such as knot-tying or using a simple machine to load cargo onto the ships, practice simple math while trying out navigation instruments, or toss a lead line into the river to measure its depth, just like the ships’ pilot did 400 years ago.
At the re-created James Fort participants are introduced to the hardships and economic struggles of the first settlers who experienced disease, starvation, poor leadership and a tenuous relationship with the Powhatan Indians as they struggled to find a commodity or cash crop that would make a profit for the Virginia Company, which funded the settlement. They’ll explore the court of guard where weapons and armor are stored, the storehouse for supplies and commodities, and the church, blacksmith shop, governor’s house or other buildings that tell the story of Jamestown’s beginnings. Participants may try on a breastplate and helmet to feel the weight of the armor, see and hear a matchlock musket being fired, or watch the blacksmith in action, repairing tools for the settlement.
During this 2.5-hour tour participants spend approximately 25 – 35 minutes in each area, plus walking time.
Jamestown Living-History Sampler TourThis 1-hour outdoor tour is appropriate for all ages. Rate A.
Sample the rich historical content and hands-on experiences Jamestown Settlement has to offer in its re-created living-history areas- a Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and James Fort.
While exploring each site, participants will draw conclusions about life in Powhatan Indian communities at the time the English settled Jamestown, why the English settled Virginia, why they built their fort on the James River, the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia, and the role tobacco played in the destinies of each culture at Jamestown.
During this one-hour tour, participants will spend approximately 15 minutes in each living history area, plus walking time.
Jamestown Gallery Sampler TourThis 1-hour indoor tour is appropriate for grade 7 to adult. Rate A.
Explore “how we know what we know” about history through artifacts, images, written records and more as you tour our state-of-the-art exhibition galleries depicting Jamestown’s history.
During this one-hour gallery sampler, the three cultures at Jamestown are introduced: the Powhatan Indians, English and Africans. The galleries introduce these three cultures in their homelands, investigate their interactions in Virginia, and finally identify the legacies they created as Virginia’s culture evolved through the 17th century. Interactive exhibits compare the technology of each group and show the impact of English colonization on the Powhatan culture. A unique African Object Theater may be included in this tour.
From Africa to Virginia Gallery SamplerThis 1-hour indoor tour is for recommended for grade 7 to adult. Rate A.
Explore “how we know what we know” about history through artifacts, images, written records and more as you tour our state-of-the-art exhibition galleries depicting Jamestown’s history.
During this one-hour gallery sampler, focus on the story of the Africans in their Kongo-Angolan homeland, the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia in 1619, and the development of slavery from servitude in early colonial Virginia. A unique African Object Theater may be included in this tour.
Government and LeadershipThis 2-hour tour is recommended for grades 4 to adult. Rate A.
What qualities did leaders such as paramount chief Powhatan, John Smith, and Queen Njinga have in common? What form of government did the Powhatan, English and Kongo-Angolans (Africans) have in their homelands?
Tour the outdoor living-history areas to find out how each culture provided for governing, and how their leaders attempted to protect the lives and lands of their people when the events of the early 1600s put them in jeopardy. Compare leaders and leadership styles and their success and failures. In the exhibition galleries discover the leadership of paramount chief Powhatan, his daughter Pocahontas, his brother Opecancanough, and Queen Njinga who led her people against the Portuguese in Kongo-Angola.
Outdoors at the re-created Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and James Fort see a typical small Powhatan community; understand chain of command on the ships and the impact of poor leadership on Jamestown settlement; and discover how the first representative assembly in 1619 established a model for American government. Role play and hands-on activities help participants understand the tough decisions Powhatan, English and African leaders made, and their consequences in colonial Virginia.
During this 2-hour tour groups spend approximately 20 – 25 minutes each in the galleries and re-created Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and James Fort, plus walking time.
Arts & Artisans Tour of the 17th CenturyThis two-hour tour is for recommended for grade 7 to adult. Rate A.
Jamestown Settlement galleries present one of the most varied collections relating to 1600s Virginia and the convergence of Powhatan Indian, European and African cultures – decorative and utilitarian objects, portraits, engravings and furnishings. Among items on exhibit are original portraits of King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) and Virginia Company of London investors, a circa 1600 bronze plaque from the royal court of Benin, West Africa, and various depictions of Pocahontas including a painting by John Gadsby Chapman of her baptism. Outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and fort feature periodic demonstrations of pottery- and basket-making, stone and bone tool-making, and leather, wood and metal crafts.
Historical Gardens of the 17th CenturyThis 2-hour outdoor tour is appropriate for all ages. Rate A.
Take in the beauty and function of field crops and kitchen gardens of the colonial era in the Powhatan Indian village and English colonial fort.
Little PowhatansThis one-hour tour is appropriate for young students Pre-K to kindergarten. Rate A.
Through simple and fun hands-on activities and plenty of imagination, young students discover in the re-created Powhatan Indian village how basic needs for food, shelter and clothing were met by the Powhatan Indians long ago. Students take on the role of a young Powhatan child and follow through a day-in-the-life. They “wake up” in a Powhatan house or yehakin, help gather food, try out Powhatan farming and fishing tools, play games, and learn how to aim in case they grow up to be a hunter.
Students also make a short visit to the exhibition galleries to see Powhatan Indian artifacts and more examples of how the Powhatan met basic needs. Sample key points from this program:
• Define basic human needs and understand that how people meet their changing needs through time.
• Understand that Powhatan Indians used natural resources for shelter, clothing and food.
• Recognize differences and similarities between their lives today and the lives of young Powhatan children.
• Experience a “day-in-the-life” of a Powhatan child.
During this one-hour tour groups spend approximately 40 minutes in the Powhatan Indian village and about 15 minutes in the galleries, plus walking time. After the program, classes are welcome to visit the galleries and living-history areas with their teacher.
People, Plants and AnimalsThis one and a half hour tour is appropriate for students grade 1 – 2. Rate A.
Students use their senses to discover the plants and animals that shared the environment of early colonial Virginia with the Powhatan Indians and English settlers. Students observe, identify and make simple classifications of animals and plants that lived in this region at the time the English settlers arrived. They discuss how the Powhatan used the many natural plant and animal resources available to them for food and clothing, to build houses, and to make baskets, rope, tools, canoes and more.
Students touch, feel and see evidence of animals and plants the English introduced to Virginia, changing the habitat forever – including English herbs and flowers, the black rat, domesticated cats, chickens, hogs, cattle and horses. Short and simple primary sources include a description of the sturgeon that filled the James River and the impressive size of the trees in Virginia’s coastal plain. Students touch and handle a sturgeon scute (bony plate), a bird’s nest, bone tools, deer and other animal hides, and more.
Children learn a fun tag game, “Deer vs. Wolf”, that shows what happens to animal populations when habitats shrank, due either to Powhatan field clearing or expanded English settlement. Key points include:
• Long ago in Virginia the Powhatan Indians used the plants and animals that lived around them for food, and to make clothing, shelter and tools. The seasons determined the resources they could use and how they used them.
• The seasons of the year and the climate of Virginia affected the lives of the Englishmen. They knew how to plant, water, and weed the plants that grew in England, but not all their English plants would grow in Virginia.
• Some animals were brought to Virginia accidentally. Rats, for instance, were brought to Virginia on English ships and caused problems for both the English and the Powhatan
During this one and a half hour tour, young students visit the re-created Powhatan Indian village and James Fort for 20 minutes each, the exhibition galleries for 15 minutes, play a game for 15 minutes, plus walking time.
NEW! Choose Your Own AdventureUp to 2.5 hours. Rate B.
Customize your group’s Jamestown experience by setting your own tour length and choosing one of the following curriculum-based topics: Powhatan Indians; Africans in Early Colonial Virginia; First English Settlers in Virginia; 17th-Century Sailing Ships; Cultures in a New Virginia; Economic Ventures and Tobacco. Not available in November or April. Limited to two classes at a time.
NEW! Project VideoUp to 2.5 hours. Rate B.
Combine a Jamestown tour with project-based learning. Your students will use their own electronic devices to capture photos and video in the re-created Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and re-created James Fort. Our guide will engage your students in the history of Jamestown, while assisting them to capture the images they need for their project. We’ll help you pick the best time to visit for better access to sites and staff. Not available in November or April. Limited to two classes at a time.
Powhatan Indian WorldThis 2.5-hour program is recommended for students grades 2 – 4. Rate B.
Students are introduced to the culture and community life of the Powhatan Indians of the early 1600s during a 30-minute hands-on lesson inside a Powhatan house, or yehakin. After an introduction from a costumed interpreter, they may grind stone or bone to make tools, spin a drill used for fire-starting, pound deer tendon to make sinew to sew clothing, and grind sunflower seeds and corn to make flour, or help make a fishnet.
A tour of the re-created Powhatan Indian village includes activities such as gardening, scraping a hide to prepare it for tanning, and learning about Powhatan food ways at the cook fire. Students also visit the re-created 1607 ships and James Fort and the exhibition galleries. At the ships and fort students discover the English perspective and draw conclusions about the problems paramount chief Powhatan faced after the English arrived. They may compare the larger ocean-going ships of the English to the sleeker and faster canoes of the Powhatan, which could navigate the shallow waterways of the coastal plain. In the fort they may visit the storehouse to discuss the problems with English food supply that led the English to demand corn from the Powhatan, leading to conflict that ebbed and flowed over the years. Sample key teaching points:
• Primary jobs for Powhatan Indian men included hunting, fishing, and protecting the village. Primary jobs for Powhatan Indian women included child care, weaving mats, pottery, cooking and farming. Many jobs may have been done by both men and women. Children would have helped their parents in a number of activities.
• The English and the Powhatan Indians had a tenuous relationship characterized by intermittent periods of peace and conflict.
• Descendants of Virginia Indian tribes still live in Virginia. Their lifestyle has changed, but many aspects of their traditional culture still survive. Virginia’s Indian tribes are proud of their cultural heritage.
During this 2.5-hour program groups spend approximately an hour in the re-created Powhatan Indian village, and approximately 25 minutes each at the re-created 1607 ships and James Fort and in the galleries, plus walking time.
Powhatan Indian World related curriculum materials.
Powhatan Indian World Primary ProgramThis one and a half hour tour is appropriate for young students Pre-K to grade 1. Rate B.
The tour provides a taste of Powhatan culture for younger students, taking them to the re-created Powhatan Indian village, riverfront discovery area and exhibition galleries to see how Powhatan Indians got food, built houses, and made tools from natural resources. Students examine Powhatan fishing and hunting tools, identify animals important to the Powhatan and natural resources used to build houses, make tools and clothing. Students compare past and present and discuss family roles, community and cooperation.
On this one and a half hour tour groups spend approximately 25 minutes each in the re-created Powhatan Indian village, galleries, and riverfront discovery area, plus walking time.
Cultures at JamestownThis 2.5-hour program is recommended for students grades 4-6. Rate B.
Take an in-depth look at the three cultures that converged at Jamestown in the early 1600s: the Powhatan Indians, Africans and English. Investigate the reasons the three groups came together in the early years of Virginia colonization and discover how their interactions shaped the United States we know today.
Analyze reproduction artifacts and other primary sources from each culture, including documents, tools and clothing. Compare and contrast styles and materials for each culture, and how they used natural resources to make tools to meet their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.
Outdoors visit the re-created James Fort, 1607 ships and Powhatan Indian village where opportunities abound for comparing and contrasting these cultures through hands-on activities, role play and inquiry-based discussion. Learn how each group traveled, what they traded with each other, and why they opposed each other at times. Walk into their homes and board a ship to see how English settlers, Powhatan Indians and European sailors lived. Step up to the cook fires to compare cooking methods, tools, and foodways of the English and Powhatan. Students form hypotheses and draw conclusions about how each culture viewed the others, how they changed each other and how they survived. A few key points include:
• In the early 17th century there were many things happening in England that pushed her to explore and colonize. England established its first permanent settlement in North America at Jamestown in 1607 as an economic venture and in order to spread Protestant Christianity.
• The Powhatan Indians, West Central Africans and English were very different from each other in dress and lifestyle, although some similarities can be noted. Each culture spoke a different language, which made communication and mutual understanding very difficult.
• Members of each culture desired certain things from each other. The three groups exchanged knowledge, objects and ideas.
During this 2.5-hour program, students spend approximately 50 minutes in the classroom, 25 minutes each in the galleries and re-created Powhatan Indian village and James Fort, 15 minutes at the re-created 1607 ships, plus walking time.
Cultures at Jamestown related curriculum materials.
Life at JamestownThis 2.5-hour program is recommended for students grades 4-6. Rate B.
In the re-created James Fort, students participate in two hands-on activities that were only too familiar to every settler – open hearth cooking and military drill. Students mix corn meal and water to make basic corn cake dough as they learn about typical foods eaten in Jamestown and problems with supply that caused hunger and even starvation at times. A costumed interpreter explains the tools and methods used to cook on the open hearth as the corn cakes are prepared. A soldier then leads them in a simple musket drill to teach the basics they’d need to know to be a servant of the Virginia Company, a role all settlers had. Besides food and defense of the colony, other challenges and hardships such as disease, bad water, and poor leadership are also discussed.
In the church or governor’s house learn about martial law and the meeting of the first representative assembly at Jamestown in 1619. Other pivotal events that year include the arrival of the first documented Africans and recruitment of women for the colony – an act that represented a major change in Virginia company policy. After a complete tour of the fort, students also visit the re-created Powhatan Indian village and 1607 ships and the exhibition galleries, where they participate in additional hands-on activities that strengthen their understanding of Jamestown people and events. A few key points include:
• Everyone worked for the Virginia Company in the early years at Jamestown.
• In return the Company was responsible for providing all the supplies for the colony.
• A minister, tradesmen and laborers came to Jamestown to build the colony, process raw materials and develop new industries.
• The early Jamestown colonists faced many hardships including illness, an uncertain water supply, food shortages and conflict with the Powhatan Indians.
• In a new charter, King James I granted Virginia’s English inhabitants the right to form a legislative assembly. The General Assembly, which met in 1619, was the first representative body in English North America.
During this 2.5 hour program, groups spend approximately an hour in the re-created James Fort, and 25 minutes at the re-created 1607 ships and Powhatan Indian village, and in the galleries, plus walking time.
Life at Jamestown related curriculum materials.
Voyage to VirginiaThis 2.5-hour program is recommended for students grades 5-12. Rate B.
In the classroom students learn how to determine latitude, plot and record using simple math and navigational tools of the early 1600s. They examine and practice with tools such as the compass, chip log, traverse board and astrolabe and learn about life on board a ship as an officer, crew member and passenger. The southern route the ships followed and people and events of the voyage to Virginia in 1607 are a highlight.
At the 1607 ships students use a simple machine and work as a team to lift and load cargo onto a ship, then tour the re-created Susan Constant or Godspeed looking for evidence of how crew and passengers lived on board. In the re-created James Fort and exhibition galleries they learn more about the English settlers, the supplies they brought with them from England to Virginia on the ships, and how much the settlers depended on ships from England for life-sustaining food, clothing and supplies. A few key points include:
• Wooden sailing ships were the major means of traveling long distances during this time, but these ships also had some problems.
• The settlers took the familiar southerly route across the Atlantic Ocean to Virginia, in order to take advantage of seasonal conditions, ocean currents, trade winds and resupply on islands along the way.
• Of the 144 men and boys who sailed to Jamestown on these three ships, 105 were passengers and 39 were sailors. Both passengers and crew shared many hardships of life on board ship during this long voyage.
During this 2.5-hour program, groups spend approximately 50 minutes in the classroom, 25 minutes at the re-created 1607 ships and James Fort, and 25 minutes in the galleries, plus walking time.
Jamestown Settlement Self-Guided TourExplore Jamestown Settlement at your own pace. Be sure to allow at least 2 – 3 hours. Rate C.
• Witness the convergence of three cultures in Virginia– Powhatan Indian, English and African – as you view our introductory film 1607: A Nation Takes Root.
• Explore expansive exhibition galleries, including rare period artifacts and other primary sources, to learn about the establishment of Jamestown as a business venture, the impact of European colonization on Powhatan Indian culture, and the origins of the first known Africans in Virginia.
• Scrape a deer hide, grind corn, examine stone and bone tools, weave natural fibers into cordage and step into a yehakin in the re-created Powhatan Indian village.
• Board one of the three re-created 1607 ships to squeeze into a sailor’s bunk, steer the ship with a whipstaff or tiller, and experience life aboard ship during the four-and-a-half month voyage.
• Try on armor, watch a blacksmith forge iron tools, or sit in a church pew and imagine the first meeting of the Virginia General Assembly of 1619 in the re-created James Fort.
• Visit our gift shops which offer a selection of books, reproductions, souvenirs, teacher resources and other items.