Tooth-pulling, tight-rope walking, a dancing pig are among the simulated goings-on--along with laughter--as school children recreate 18th-century activities at Gadsby's Tavern Museum, Alexandria.
"Children, like most museum visitors, will remember what they see and do more than what is said by guides," says assistant curator Suzanne Herlitz. To help children make the most of a historic site, Herlitz advises parents to:
* Plan ahead, with brochures, maps, activity and coloring books.
* Build on what children know. Youngsters in the Washington area know an amazing amount about Colonial history.
* Create an imaginary time line. Use questions (theirs and yours) to point out differences between then and now: travel, communication, chores.
* Improvise a data-retrieval system, with each child looking for different objects: lighting, clothing, cooking utensils, etc.
A 7-year-old boy's favorite recollections of a family trip to the Williamsburg area a year ago:
* Jamestown -- "The Glasshouse, where we bought a pitcher I watched them make from melted sand; the bark houses; the funny guides."
* Williamsburg -- "The powder magazine I went in three times; the gingerbread men; sticking my head in the stocks; playing checkers in the tavern late at night."
* Yorktown -- "George Washington's big tent inside the building; hiding out on a real battlefield."