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CW Kids Ask

Join us online for “CW Kids Ask,” where students will explore 18th-century life and learn about the people, events, and ideas that helped shape America. Each livestream program incorporates relevant primary sources, short on-demand videos, and live question-and-answer segments.

CW Kids Ask will return in the fall with new programs. In the meantime, you can find past recordings below and explore our other livestream series for students, history enthusiasts, and everyone in between.

Ask a Question

Would you like to be a part of CW Kids Ask next school year? Send us your question and it could be answered in a brand new video! We’re collecting questions about:

  • The colonial economy,
  • Daily life
  • The Williamsburg community
  • The American Revolution

Fill out the form below and watch for your question to be answered by Colonial Williamsburg! Your information will not be used to contact you. If you are a student, please enter “student” in the last name field and “000-0000” in the phone number field.

Submit a Question

Previous CW Kids Ask Programs

How does archaeology teach us about history?
There is a whole other world of history in the ground beneath our feet! This month, our archeologists here at Colonial Williamsburg will show us exactly what it means to literally dig deeper into history!


To access the resources below, please first log in to your free Education Resource Library account or use the shared login information at https://resourcelibrary.history.org

  • Take a look at how history is written and reevaluated in “Jamestown Unearthed”. Explore the myths and misconceptions of Jamestown in 1607: revisit the documents, artifacts, and other evidence through archaeology. Learn how every generation sees the evidence in new ways, and how this affects our understanding of the past. This program features video, a teacher guide, and lesson plans.
  • Read more about archaeology in this guide for teachers.
  • People of all cultures and all social classes produce garbage. Learn how archaeologists use discarded objects to understand people of the past in this lesson plan.
  • In this lesson plan, students will learn about three different kinds of archaeological features – a well, a trash pit, and a privy – and the types of artifacts they contain.
  • Colonial Williamsburg's archaeology team is actively excavating multiple sites important to Williamsburg's 18th-century Black community. Join archaeologists Jack Gary and Meredith Poole in this archived livestream from Spring 2021 to discuss what we can learn about people of the past from what they left behind.
  • Learn more about archaeological research currently underway at Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest finds on the Colonial Williamsburg Archaeology Facebook page.
  • Learn more about the science of archaeology from the American Museum of Natural History.
  • To stay up-to-date with our archaeologists and to check out some of their past digs, you can visit our archeology page!
  • To learn more about the Magazine, the site our archeologists focused on in today’s livestream, you can watch videos and discover activities on soldier’s lives during the Revolution, what soldiers needed from the Magazine, and the April Conspiracy that put the Magazine in Williamsburg in all the Colonial headlines.
  • If you enjoyed today’s program and would like to spend even more time with our archaeologists, come Discover the Past!
  • For a quick overview of our archaeology department here at Colonial Williamsburg, check out this blog post.
  • To learn more about the history of archaeology, and the people who began the work here, read this piece by one of our archeologists.

How do tradespeople at Colonial Williamsburg use science and math?
Hammers and anvils and fire! The Historic Trades are steeped in STEM. Join us to learn how these creators of colonial commodities use science, technology, engineering, and math to make many different items just like they did in the 18th century.


To access the resources below, please first log in to your free Education Resource Library account or use the shared login information at https://resourcelibrary.history.org

  • Root for student contestants as they compete to discover the physics, chemistry, and simple machines employed by Colonial Williamsburg’s tradespeople to reconstruct an 18th-century coffeehouse in “The Amazing Trade Shop Science Race”. Quirky “Professor Eddie” hosts this engaging science game show!
  • Colonial Williamsburg's tradespeople help two teams of students in a race against the clock to help the Continental Army in “The Amazing Trade Shop Math Race!” Quirky "Professor Eddie" is back again, highlighting how students use their math skills to make shirts, bread, cartridge boxes, and more.
  • This lesson explores the world of eighteenth-century colonial currency and lets students practice adding pounds, shillings, and pence.
  • Students explore mathematical concepts related to circles, then make their own girls’ caps in this lesson plan.
  • In this lesson, students explain how colonists purchased items using credit. They read a scenario and record entries into a waste book and individual ledger to simulate colonial credit transactions.
  • In this lesson, students use geometry, measurement, and problem solving to produce a pattern for a basic colonial shirt.
  • Learn about spit jacks in this primary source analysis. The spit jack worked with a series of pulleys and weights and makes use of several simple machines.


Additional Resources:

How do we learn about women in colonial America?
How do historians know what they know? In this livestream, we dive into the world of primary sources, using things from the 18th century to tell us about women who lived back then. Since almost anything from the Colonial Era can be a primary source, we are able to learn about both famous and not-so-famous women throughout society.


  • In these videos, explore some of the women who helped shape and were impacted by the Revolution.
  • To dig deeper into a woman who left us with many primary sources, including some we used for research for this episode, learn about Clementina Rind.
  • If you want to gain a better understanding of letters written during the 18th century, study a few and then try your hand at writing some in the same way the colonists did!
  • To study primary sources like historians do, follow these lesson plans to analyze a handkerchief with 18th century poetry and runaway ads. Or, if you don’t have time for a full lesson, check out this excellent blog post on how to read a runaway ad.
  • If you want to take a closer look at how historians use primary sources to see the full scope of someone’s life, read these blog posts from our Milliners examining Margaret Hunter, an 18th century milliner, and what people did with the clothes that she made.
  • For a closer look at how we use primary sources that come out of the ground, take a look at this blog post from our archeologists!
  • And if you want a concise yet thorough explanation of how and where woman could be found in the 18th century workforce (spoiler: almost everywhere!), read this!
  • Finally, if you want to explore our own collections a bit more, you can look at thousands of objects on eMuseum, or read through the Virginia Gazette!

How did enslaved people resist enslavement?
People who were enslaved never accepted their enslavement. Every day they found ways to resist by using their ingenuity, creativity, skill, and community. In this livestream, we will explore how enslaved people resisted enslavement in both expected and unexpected ways.


Teacher Resources

  • Discover how enslaved people resisted their slave owners and what the consequences were of some of the most prolific 17th, 18th, and 19th century slave rebellions in “Flames of Freedom.” This program contains three video components, two classroom lesson plans, an evaluation activity, and literacy resources. *Requires FREE Account*
  • Discover how enslaved people resisted their enslavement by using the laws of Virginia to their advantage and working collaboratively with others in “Freedom Bound.” This program contains three video components, two classroom lesson plans, an evaluation activity, and literacy resources. *Requires FREE Account*


Colonial Williamsburg Resources

  • Runaway ads are primary sources that can give useful insight into the lives and experiences of enslaved people but they are also difficult and challenging to read. This blog post provides helpful tips on how to read a runway ad.
  • This blog post on Peter, an enslaved man who self-emancipated from the property of John Custis examines the archaeological and primary source information available to get a deeper understanding of resistance of enslaved people and the harshness of Virginia slave laws.
  • “From Ear to Ear”, a 2006 Colonial Williamsburg album of African American music; can be found on Amazon Music or Spotify.
  • This resource contains content that is extremely sensitive and may not be comfortable for all ages. Proceed with caution. An excerpt from a Virginia Gazette references a near fatal act of resistance of an enslaved man.


Books

  • Mandela, Nelson, ed. Favorite African Folktales. W.W. Norton & Company. 2004.
  • Goss, Linda. Talk that Talk: An Anthology of African-American Storytelling. Touchstone. 1989.
  • Abrahams, Roger. African American Folktales: Stories from Black Traditions in the New World. Pantheon. 1999.
  • Radin, Paul, ed. African Folktales. Princeton University Press. 2016.
  • Barker, W.H. and Sinclair, Cecilia. West African Folk-Tales. Yesterday’s Classics. 2007.
  • African-American Children’s Stories. Publications International. 2001.
  • Aptheker, Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts. International Publishers. 1983.
  • Mullin, Gerald W. Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-century Virginia. Oxford University Press. 1974.
  • Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. Oxford University Press. 2004.

How did colonial government work?
What did people like George Washington do when they were serving in the Virginia government?  Did we have rights when we were British subjects?  Were the people represented in the colonial government? Learning about government does not have to be boring! Join us for a look into the system that gave birth to the creation of the rights we enjoy today.


Additional Resources

  • Take a closer look at the lyrics to the music video featured in this month’s livestream.
  • Take a closer look at the diagram featured in this month’s livestream.
  • Take a virtual tour of the Capitol at this link.
  • Join an American Indian Interpreter as they share how the founding fathers looked to native governments when establishing their new republic.
  • Learn about elections in the 18th century and how they compare to our elections today in this livestream from December 2020.
  • Witness the conflict and compromises that accompanied the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in “A More Perfect Union”. Join young eighteenth-century observers, unseen by convention delegates, as they travel from state to state tallying the vote. Learn about the ratification process and Americans’ growing interests in their fledgling nation’s new government. *Requires FREE account*
  • The months of late 1776 were “the times that try men’s souls.” Join Edward Rutledge, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams as they attend a conference with British admiral Lord Howe, hoping to end the American rebellion peacefully. Discover how the choices of individuals can affect history in this Electronic Field Trip, “Founders or Traitors”. *Requires FREE account*
  • This “Elections Then and Now” lesson plan focuses on drawing comparisons between 18th century and modern voting procedures. *Requires FREE account*
  • This “Civics for a Democratic Society” lesson set is intended to provide educators with the materials they need to integrate civics instruction into the social studies or multi-subject classroom. The lessons cover the basic concepts of American citizenship and government, and the introductory materials (History-Based Discussion Prompts and Biographies of Citizens in Action) are written in student-friendly language and can be used to introduce or extend learning following each lesson. *Requires FREE account*
  • This article by Paul Aron discusses the creation of the Declaration of Independence.
  • This blog post from historian Cathy Hellier provides additional details about the 18th-century election process.
  • The National Archives provides easy-to-read text of each section of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.
  • George Mason’s Gunston Hall provides some additional details on the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the man who led the charge in the creation of this important document.

Did everyone agree about declaring independence?
Throughout history people have never agreed fully on everything, and the question of declaring independence was no different. In this livestream, we will explore some different views the diverse people of the colonial era had about declaring independence.


Teacher Resources

  • Discover how the Revolutionary War reached into the West to frontier communities in the Ohio River Valley in “The American Revolution on the Frontier”. American Indians, French traders, British and American colonists, and African Americans faced life-changing decisions about whether to fight — and on which side. This program features 3 video segments, an online activity, and a classroom lesson plan.
  • The months of late 1776 were “the times that try men’s souls.” Join Edward Rutledge, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams as they attend a conference with British admiral Lord Howe, hoping to end the American rebellion peacefully. “Founders or Traitors” features 3 video segments and 2 classroom lesson plans.
  • This “Choices of the Revolution” lesson plan looks at four pairs of individuals and the choices they made when faced with the prospect of American independence. By comparing different perspectives on the issue of independence, students will see that personal decisions about independence were much more complicated than just agreeing with one side over the other.
  • This collection contains primary source images and documents pertaining to the separation of the thirteen colonies from England during the American Revolution.
  • This “Rights, Controversies, and the American Revolution” lesson plan provides the framework to help your students better understand the difficult choices individuals made prior to the start of the Revolution by having them take on the roles of loyalists, patriots, and those who were undecided to debate whether Virginia will remain a colony of Great Britain or will break away to become independent.

Colonial Williamsburg Resources

  • Read about Harry Washington, a man enslaved by George Washington, and how he fought for his own independence – by siding with the British.
  • In this archived livestream and Q&A, join George Wythe in May 1776 as he awaits word from Virginia concerning America’s independence in Philadelphia.
  • Not everyone agreed that declaring independence from Great Britain was the correct choice. This archived livestream and Q&A discusses the perspectives and experiences of loyalists.
  • Watch this archived livestream and Q&A with His Excellency, Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of His Majesty’s Colony of Virginia, on April 22, 1775. His Lordship intends to address the public concerning the actions of the Royal Marines at Williamsburg’s public magazine on April 21st.
  • This is a special release of "Created Equal", a museum theatre exploration of African American perspectives on the Declaration, the revolutions it inspired, and the ongoing struggle for equality and freedom in America. It first premiered live on stage at Colonial Williamsburg on July 4th, 2019.
  • In this archived livestream and Q&A, join Thomas Jefferson on July 2, 1776 as he discusses the impending Declaration of Independence, and the promises made by that work. Will his dreams be fulfilled? And what will the legacy be of the document?
  • Subject or citizen? Liberty or loyalty? Patriot or traitor? The answers to these questions depend on your personal perspective and experiences. Join three eighteenth-century residents of Williamsburg from very different walks of life and discover how their revolutionary points of view affect their opinions on freedom, liberty, and independence.

How did different kids fit into colonial America?
Which kids would be members of the elite gentry or working tradespeople? How did people climb the ladder to the next rung of colonial society? This livestream will take a deeper look at how children fit into the class structure of colonial Virginia.


Colonial Williamsburg Resources


Other Resources

How did the colonial economy work?
Have you ever wondered what things cost in Colonial America? In this livestream, we explore the structure and function of the colonial economy in Virginia, taking a closer look at tobacco, credit, slavery, fashion, fabric, money, and so much more!


What are American Indian people’s lives like?
American Indian people are some of the most diverse members of the population today. In this livestream, we will have an opportunity to meet and learn from some of Colonial Williamsburg's American Indian interpreters as they tell us about their culture and daily life in in both the past and present.


Colonial Williamsburg Resources



Resources for Teachers

To access the resources below, please first log in to your free Education Resource Library account or use the shared login information at https://resourcelibrary.history.org

  • In the “Emissaries of Peace” Electronic Field Trip, you will find video, background information, and several lesson plans about the true story of Cherokee leader Ostenaco and Virginian Henry Timberlake. Learn how these two men worked to find a lasting peace between the British and Cherokee during the French & Indian War.
  • In “The American Revolution on the Frontier” Electronic Field Trip, discover how the Revolutionary War reached into the West to frontier communities in the Ohio River Valley. American Indians, French traders, British and American colonists, and African Americans faced life-changing decisions about whether to fight — and on which side. This program features video, a lesson plan, and an online game.