Third Grade Learns About Native History in Historic Jamestown

Third-grade students traveled to Jamestown (and back in time several hundred years) to learn more about the Powhatan tribe—a native American people who lived in coastal Virginia when the British arrived in 1607. The students have been studying the Powhatan, as well as other people, as part of their Native American unit in social studies.

Historic Jamestown is home to the Powhatan Village, a recreated, working settlement where students explored crops, reed-covered houses, ceremonial circles and a day-in-the-life of a Powhatan tribe member  

“[Students] had a classroom lesson about the Powhatan Indians,” said Third-Grade Teacher Michelle McNaughton. “The docent had several items for the kids to try on and touch.”

The class explored the village and learned about how the native people used and cultivated deer hide, ground corn and more. Students also tried target practice. After exploring, everyone attended a cooking demonstration in a yehakin—a Powhatan living structure typically made from natural materials found in the surrounding environment.

Later, the class took to the water to learn about the Susan Constant—one of three recreated ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia at Jamestown Settlement’s pier—and walked through the "town" of Jamestown. Students were thrilled to discover Christopher Newport—a figure they’ve read about—traveled on the original Susan Constant.

“This part was the perfect tie-in with the historical-fiction novel we just read called ‘A Lion to Guard Us,’” said McNaughton. “This novel takes place in 1609 when three children are traveling across the Atlantic to reach their father who lives in Jamestown. Seeing the ship and going inside helped the class understand the book’s setting.”