Teaching about the colonial period is a part of the curriculum nationwide. Students learn that Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans populated the 13 colonies that would become the United States. Each group faced its own unique challenges, which informed its histories and traditions. But some students may wonder: If these events took place so long ago that the United States wasn’t even a country yet, why is it important to learn the story of the 13 colonies?   

Five Reasons Colonial History Is Important:

  1. To connect to our communities: The 13 colonies were the basis of the first states that made up America. Many of the towns and institutions colonists established, such as churches and schools, are still around today.
  2. To identify with our fellow Americans: The people who populated the colonies—Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans—came from many backgrounds and traditions. In modern America, diversity and multiculturalism are still an essential part of our society.
  3. To understand our cultural heritage: The customs and traditions developed by the colonists, Native Americans, and Africans during this time are still very much a part of modern America. Significant milestones within our histories of art and music can be traced to contributions from all three groups, while the impact that all players had on the development of industry cannot be overstated.
  4. To discover the events that shaped our country: Although colonists came from many places, America became their home. The struggle to resist tyrannical efforts by the British Parliament would lead to the American Revolution, which yielded the Constitution of the United States and other important documents and principles.
  5. To trace modern democracy back to America’s founding principles: America wouldn’t exist if not for the colonists’ spirit of independence. Our nation’s government was formed in this era, and your class’s understanding of modern democracy will benefit from a clear portrait of how we got here.

Students learn about the importance of this pivotal time in U.S. history in the classroom—but they can also experience it firsthand. Colonial Williamsburg offers them the unique opportunity to witness events leading up to and occurring during the American Revolution. Students can speak with actors portraying our nation’s Founding Fathers and gain new insights into the formation of our country.

How can you make your next field trip truly revolutionary? Watch this video to find out.

A visit to Colonial Williamsburg offers something for schoolchildren of all ages no matter what you teach.

  • Customizable experiences: Team up with Colonial Williamsburg’s professional educators to create an experience tailored to meet your curriculum goals and the subject matter you teach, whether it’s history, ELA, math, or science.
  • Interactive and immersive learning: Colonial Williamsburg offers a one-of-a-kind learning environment. Where else can students converse with our nation’s founders, explore authentic 18th-century homes, witness mock witch trials, or listen to African-American storytelling?
  • Expert guided tours: Follow a historical interpreter on a tour of the colonial Capitol Building, where Virginia’s patriots voted for independence, and the Governor’s Palace, the residence of historic figures such as Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. Then have students try their hand at bucket making, colonial games, and domestic chores. Finally, see how colonial artisans, such as blacksmiths, milliners, brick makers, and silversmiths create authentic wares.
  • Classroom resources: Access materials, activities, and lessons from Colonial Williamsburg’s online Education Resource Library to use before and after your visit. These multimedia resources are designed to meet the needs of a range of age groups and teaching disciplines. To create a FREE account, visit Resource library.

Are You Ready to Plan Your Trip?

Find out how you can create individualized group tours for your school or class by calling 1-800-228-8878, emailing groupsales@cwf.org, or visiting the Colonial Williamsburg website