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Colonial WIlliamsburg


Focus Question: What was daily life like for the people of colonial Williamsburg?

Materials:Large paper





ENGAGE Poster Dialogue

Prior to the activity, teachers write aspects of life in Colonial Williamsburg at the top of the paper, one statement/question per page. These include, “Education,” “Professions/Trades,” “Social Life,” “Government,” “Slavery,” “Religion.” Leader provides each participant a marker and asks that all participants respond to each page in any order they would like. Participants can respond with a word, phrase, or image that shows something they know about this aspect of life in Colonial Williamsburg. This is a silent activity; music can be played in the background. Teachers may choose to participate in the activity as well. After participants have put a comment on each page they are encouraged to take time to read what the other participants have written.

Possible Side-Coaching: “Make sure you have a comment on each page.” “If someone has written exactly what you wanted to say, you are welcome to put a check mark by that statement.”

Processing Points: • What did it feel like to participate in this activity? • Which statements/comments got the most check marks? Why? • Are there specific words/phrases that appear on multiple pages? Why do you think this happened?



Procedure: Divide students so that some are playing and some are the audience. Discuss what a frozen image is (doesn’t move, captures a moment in action using the body and face, strong point of view) and how to make one using your entire body. Assign the “players” a number. Call out a number and have the person come a make a frozen image with their body. Call out another number and have a person add to this image. Continue until all the players have joined the image. Have the audience “read” the image. Repeat a number of times so that everyone has a chance to play.

Possible Side-coaching: • “Find a different way to join the image that you haven’t done before (a new level, a new point of view).” • “Make sure you are building on the image that is already there.” • ”Push your point of view.”

Assign each tribe one of the six posters describing an aspect of life in Colonial Williamsburg explored in poster dialogue. Ask each tribe to circle three big ideas that stand out to them on the poster. Each tribe then takes 10 minutes to create a stage picture about their assigned aspect of colonial life, using poster dialogue as a reference. Each group presents their image to the class.

Processing questions for the class:

• What do we see here?

• What might be going on here? How do you know?

• What does this image tell us about life in Colonial Williamsburg?

Processing questions for each tribe:

• What ideas from the poster dialogue struck you most strongly?

• Tell us about your process of creating this image.


Final processing questions:

• What skills did you need in order to successfully create these stage pictures?

• What details did you notice that said something about Colonial Williamsburg?

• What did you learn by creating your stage picture? By observing other groups’ stage pictures?

Extensions/Applications : 


MUSEUM CURATORS Explain that for the next portion of the class, we are going to imagine that we are museum curators creating a new museum exhibit entitled “Life in Colonial Willimsburg.” Our stage pictures will be models for the exhibits displayed in the museum. While one group is presenting their picture, other museum curators should think about what kind of inscription they will write to explain the image to museum-goers.

Teacher shows example of such an inscription, and class discusses. Each group shows their stage picture. Processing Points: • What are the bodies doing? • Because the bodies are doing what do you interpret that to mean? What’s going on?

• How does this relate to what we know about Colonial Williamsburg? Teacher scribes reactions. After all groups have shown their images, students, in role as museum curators, write inscriptions for three of the images they have seen.