American Revolution Museum at Yorktown - Group Tours and Programs - Descriptions

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Guided Tour
This two-hour guided tour is appropriate for all ages. Rate A.

Our professional museum educators will present hands-on activities and educational experiences in new indoor spaces and outdoor living history areas. The tour emphasizes the choices and challenges faced by the people of the thirteen colonies when they decided to break with Britain. Participants discover the decisions Americans faced as they sorted out their loyalties, and the challenges of fighting a war and forming a new government.

In the classroom they’ll try role play and artifact analysis to discover the road to Revolution, the causes of the war and regional economic perspectives. They choose sides – would they be patriots, loyalists, or try to remain neutral until the war was at their doorstep? Would they sign a mock Declaration of Independence, declaring themselves traitors to King George III? Would they fight for the right to establish a new kind of nation unlike any before?

Outdoors in the recreated 1780s farm participants discover how a farmer, his wife, children and enslaved African Americans were impacted by the war. They experience daily activities on the farm through hands-on activities such as: hoeing tobacco and corn (seasonal); combing flax to be made into linen thread; hearth cooking and food preservation; and home medical treatments made from kitchen garden ingredients. They’ll see how enslaved African Americans lived on a middling farm and compare and contrast this to the conditions experienced by slaves living on large tobacco plantation of the period.

In the Continental Army encampment, participants find out if they qualify to enlist, and what their lives would be like if they chose to fight for the patriot cause. They’ll learn about the motivations that inspired men to join the patriot cause, compare the privates’ tents with those of the officers, and get a feel for living conditions by trying to fit six of the group into a private’s tent. The soldiers’ wives and families sometimes followed the army during the Revolution, and participants will see the makeshift shelters the wives would have built for themselves at the edge of camp. They’ll learn how disease and wounds were treated by the camp surgeon, and be “treated” for a medical problem. They’ll view a musket firing led by a costumed interpreter to hear why armies fought in linear formations during the Revolution. Finally they will understand why the Continental Army was able to defeat the British at Yorktown.

Sample Yorktown Guided Tour key points:
• In 1750 most colonists saw themselves as loyal British subjects; by 1775 many were seeking open revolt. Ultimately, all colonists were faced with many choices because of the Revolution.
• The words of the Declaration of Independence combined with the talk of liberty throughout the colonies led many enslaved African Americans to hope they too would be able to win their freedom.
• Patriots who chose to become soldiers could join the local militia or enlist in the Continental Army.
• Not all patriots served the revolutionary cause as soldiers. Many men and women remained on the home front where they could contribute in other ways.
During this 2 hour tour, participants spend approximately ? minutes in each area, plus walking time.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Sampler Tour
This one-hour guided tour is appropriate for all ages. Rate A.

Group visitors get a sample of history and hands-on activities as they tour the Continental Army encampment and farm to learn about the causes and consequences of the Revolutionary War.

During this 1 hour tour, participants will spend approximately 25 minutes in the 1780s farm and 25 minutes in the Continental Army encampment.

Revolution and the New Nation
This two-hour tour is recommended for grade 9 to adult. Rate A.

In this enhanced tour for middle and high school students, participants identify, analyze and interpret the new political ideas that shaped the American Revolution and the nation through documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. In the classroom they’ll participate in fun activities to identify and match political statements with their authors – John Locke, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson and others. Students trace the influence of each of these men and others on the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

In the 1780s farm, they continue to analyze primary sources and reproduction artifacts to compare and contrast the situations in which people found themselves as a result of the war. They’ll participate in a role play called “The Price of Liberty” that asks students to put themselves in the shoes of a small farmer, his wife, children, and slave(s) to make choices about whether to join the army or stay on the farm, and consider the consequences of either choice.

In the encampment they’ll discover the living conditions, food, and lack of pay experienced by common soldiers and officers. They’ll see how women of the army lived, and how these women – wives of the soldiers – were incorporated into the army and provided for when possible. Poor nutrition, disease, lack of training and experience nearly caused the defeat of the Continental Army several times in the early years of the war. Strong diplomacy and ties to France as well as strong leadership helped the new United States win the war.

The war was fought and won under the government of the Articles of Confederation, and students will analyze its strengths and weaknesses. They’ll discuss the Constitutional Convention and the compromises necessary to gain ratification. Students will identify quotes as Federalist and Ant-Federalist, and relate basic principles of the Constitution and Bill of Rights to their lives today.

Sample key points from Revolution and the New Nation
• As the colonies matured, the Americans and the British government increasingly disagreed about their respective roles. The British viewed the colonies as inferior and dependent children. The Americans saw Great Britain as an overprotective parent.
• The key principles in the Declaration of Independence grew in importance to become unifying ideas of American democracy.
• The Constitution was written to remedy the defects in the first American government, the Articles of Confederation.
During this 2 hour tour, participants spend approximately 50 minutes of discussion and primary source analysis, and 25 minutes each in the encampment and farm.

Historical Gardens of the 18th Century
This two-hour guided tour is appropriate for all ages. Rate A.

See the varieties of crops and herbs and vegetables grown in the 18th century that are cultivated in the 1780s farm

Colonial Life Primary
This two-hour tour is appropriate for young students Kindergarten to grade 3. Rate B.

Activities resemble those for Colonial Life, but are age-appropriate for younger children. More emphasis is placed on comparing daily life for a middling farm family long ago to life in the present, and the tobacco economy of the 1700s is not emphasized. In the classroom, young students answer simple questions about reproduction artifacts, listen to a fable popular at the time, and make a craft to take home and remind them of life on the farm. On the farm they will mix and stir corncakes, and participate in hands-on activities as they tour the farm.

Sample of key points from Colonial Life:
• In colonial Virginia most people lived on small farms.
• Life was different in 18th-century Virginia than it is today.
• 18th century farmers produced much of what they needed (orchards, poultry, and corn.)

During this one and a half hour tour groups spend approximately…

Colonial Life
This 2 1/2-hour program is recommended for students grades 3-5. Rate B.

Life on a middling farm in the late 1700s is the focus of this program for elementary school-age students. In the classroom students analyze reproduction artifacts as they discover the food, clothing and pastimes of a farm family in the years surrounding the Revolutionary War. Hands-on activities and clothing try-on help students get a feel for daily life. The economic realities of barter, credit and debt on a tobacco farm are realized through role play and discussion.

On the farm, students stir and mix corncakes, a staple food of Virginians at that time. They may help with childrens’ chores, such as watering and weeding in the kitchen garden (seasonal), and learn how the vegetables and herbs grown there were processed for food and medicine. They may help comb flax into smooth strands used to make linen thread. Students may meet ducks and chickens typical on a farm during that period, and learn how important animals and animal products were to the survival of the farm family. In the tobacco barn they’ll cover the economics of the tobacco economy and the changes brought by the Revolutionary War.

Sample of key points from Colonial Life:
• From the colonial through the post-war periods most people in Tidewater Virginia lived on small or middling farms.
• People on a Tidewater farm were able to grow a cash crop to purchase items they could not produce. The crops grown on a middling farm changed during the colonial, Revolutionary War, and post-war periods.
• People on a Tidewater Virginia farm were able to produce most of their food and some household items, but usually purchased others. The methods used to meet these needs changed throughout the colonial, Revolutionary War, and post-war periods.

During this two and a half hour tour groups spend approximately groups spend 50 minutes in the classroom and 50 minutes on the farm, with 20 minutes for restrooms and walking time.

Colonial Life related curriculum materials.

Life of a Private
This 2 1/2-hour program is recommended for students grades 4-8. Rate B.

In the classroom participants analyze primary sources and reproduction artifacts to explore the Revolutionary War through the eyes of those who fought it. They will try on a Continental Army regimental coat and uniform accoutrements and handle a flintlock musket, while learning about causes of the war, daily life for soldiers and officers, reasons the Americans were victorious, and the challenges Americans faced when the war ended. Realities such as lack of food, little or no pay and no uniforms or shoes were common in the first few years of the war. Participants discover what happened when the French formed an alliance with the Americans, and how a German soldier named Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Von Steuben helped to change the fortunes of the Continental Army.

In the Continental Army encampment participants experience the realities of training and daily life in the army as they drill and march. They learn how illnesses and wounds would be treated by the camp surgeon, and see and smell typical daily food rations, when food was available. Living conditions for a private and an officer are compared and contrasted, and the importance of discipline in the army is demonstrated.

On the 1780s farm, (optional) participants tour a recreated middling farm and encounter the daily struggles and chores of a farm family at the time of the American Revolution,
• The American colonies’ increasing dissatisfaction with British governance and economic policies led to the meeting of the Continental Congress. The Continental Army was created in 1775 to oppose the British Army in the growing conflict.
• Soldiers were supposed to be provided with essential supplies like food, clothing and shelter by the Continental Army.
• The Continental Army at times faced problems, including a lack of supplies, insufficient funding and poorly trained soldiers.

During this two hour tour groups spend approximately 50 minutes in the classroom and 25 minutes each in the Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm.

Life of a Private related curriculum materials.

Revolutionary Virginia
This 2 1/2-hour program is recommended for students grades 4-5. Rate B.

This program challenges students to work in small groups to analyze, hypothesize and draw conclusions about primary sources of the Revolutionary War period as they answer questions about life in revolutionary Virginia. In the classroom each group receives a bag that contains maps, images or other documents, along with reproduction artifacts. Every group receives a questions to answer, using the artifacts in the bag, after some basic instruction on their task. Students are mentored as they learn historical analysis skills, and then present their findings to the class.

On the recreated 1780s farm students tour a typical farmhouse, kitchen and tobacco barn to compare life in revolutionary Virginia to life today. They continue to analyze artifact and primary source documents, such as a 1700s cook book and tobacco notes. A role play in the tobacco barn engages students in understanding barter, credit and debt in the tobacco economy of colonial Virginia.

In the Continental Army encampment, students visit the privates’ tents, take part in a medical demonstration of common treatments and learn about the toll of disease and malnutrition on the army. They’ll march and drill with a costumed interpreter, and then see a flintlock musket fired while learning why soldiers often fought in linear formations during the Revolutionary War.

Questions students answer in Revolutionary Virginia
• How did people in Virginia decide where to live?
• What did people need to buy, and how did they pay for it?
• How did people around the time of the Revolutionary War take care of medical problems?
• What can you tell about the life of a revolutionary war soldier?

During this two hour tour groups spend approximately 50 minutes in the classroom, 30 minutes in the Continental Army encampment and 20 minutes in the 1780s farm.