June 3, 2005
CW's website not just for adults any more!
Pilar, an animated tour guide at Colonial Williamsburg’s newest electronic children’s attraction, Kids Zone, gives preschool and early elementary school students a tour of the 18th-century capital of Virginia.
What’s behind curtain number one? In Colonial Williamsburg’s Kids Zone, the Foundation’s first web presence for young guests, it could very well be George Washington. “Name That Founding Father,” a web game with a game show format, is one of several games on the website that allow children from preschool to early elementary school to explore 18th-century history with the click of a mouse.
The Kids Zone, which can be found at www.ColonialWilliamsburg.com/kids, gives children an animated tour of the 18th-century capital of Virginia through illustrations, games and activities with guides Pilar and Matthew.
The animated guides, who are meant to appeal to a diverse audience, ease young guests through Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. Pilar and Matthew’s stories are in a random rotation so the guest may see a different panel during each web visit. “These characters’ panels will give web users information about what life was like in the 18th century and provide questions they may ask if they visit the Historic Area,” said Robyn Eoff, Colonial Williamsburg’s director of the Internet.
Each story contains one of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades, one of the Rare Breed animals, famous patriots or loyalists, and a game. For instance, a Caucasian boy, Matthew, introduces young guests to 18th-century masons who describe how bricks are made. Through the ears of a Hispanic-American girl, Pilar, children can hear the clang of a blacksmith’s hammer on an anvil and learn more about what a blacksmith does for a living.
Matthew and Pilar teach children about 18th-century animals. Parents and children can explore the secrets of the game, “Chicken Chase,” and see who scores more points catching the chickens and putting them in a coop. Pilar shows the children Leicester Longwool sheep. The “Sheep Shuffle” gives children an opportunity to herd sheep into a pen.
What Founding Father is known for the immortal words of the American Revolution, “Give me liberty or give me death?” Patrick Henry is the featured Founding Father and children can hear him reciting a portion of his Caesar-Brutus speech. Children can meet royalty when Lord and Lady Dunmore introduce themselves and let young guests get a sneak peek into their home at the Governor’s Palace.
Games reinforce information found in a particular panel. During “Brickmaker Build-Up,” young web guests place images in the order in which bricks are made. “Heads Up for Colonists” allows web guests to select the proper headpiece for the each person. Blacksmith James Anderson asks children to help him organize the tools for his shop.
Young web guests also have the option of visiting Colonial Williamsburg’s website through links on Kids Zone about Rare Breeds, Historic Trades or local 18th-century residents.
Two other characters will be added in a few months, Eoff said, Ben, an African-American boy, and Li Ming, an Asian-American girl.
Eoff hopes Kids Zone will be the first step in Colonial Williamsburg’s exploration for these young web guests. “As they get older, we hope they will visit the ‘Explore & Learn’ and ‘Visit’ sections of the site.”