Colonial Williamsburg® The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website

Page content
Reset text sizeResize text larger

JUNE 1, 2012


"Babies, Balls, and Bull Roarers"

In the 1700s, toys were becoming a more common part of a colonial child's life. Toys provided the opportunity to learn both physical skills needed later in life and social virtues such as sharing, patience and careful stewardship of possessions. As David Robinson says in this article, "...for most of the kids in town, and nearly all the kids in the countryside, toys came not from stores or Santas but from their own imaginations and ingenuity. When father's carriage broke a wheel, the iron tire made a dandy hoop. Stand it up, whack it with a stick, and see how far you can keep it rolling...It's not as easy as it looks." Many other colonial toys and games are recognizable today; after all, we were all kids once, too.

Primary Source of the Month

Wooden doll, c. 1770-1775
Wooden Doll, c. 1770–1775
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Of all the toys in colonial times, dolls would be close to the top of the list in popularity, variety, and availability. Dolls, or "babies" as they were referred, could be made by hand out of materials like corn husks, or could be made of finer things and purchased, sometimes at great price. Milliner's shops also kept dolls to show off the latest fashions.

The Will of the People EFT
The Next Electronic Field Trip
is The Will of the People
October 11, 2012

Find sources of federal funding for EFTs in this PDF.

Register for complimentary access to "The Will of the People" for the month of September with our Gift to the Nation.

Facebook Logo

Teaching News

Jefferson's Blog

This year marks the 250th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's completion of studies at the College of William and Mary. Do his philosophies on education still ring true? Read his thoughts on education in his own words and join the discussion!

Dr. William E. White's Huffington Post Education Blog

Is the American education system fulfilling its mission for young citizens today? Can we sustain our republic without knowing our history? Join William E. (Bill) White, Royce R. & Kathryn M. Baker Vice President Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as he discusses these topics and more every two weeks for Huffington Post Education. Share, comment, and spread the word that history education is vital for creating informed and involved citizens of our American republic. Read more at

Teacher Community

The Idea of America
The Idea of America
A digital American history program that inspires and prepares high school students for active citizenship, developed by Colonial Williamsburg and distributed by Pearson Education.

Downloadable American History
Lesson Plans from ABC-CLIO
and Colonial Williamsburg

Note: The next issue of the Teacher Gazette will be released September 4. If your school email address is changing for the new school year, be sure to subscribe under your new address. Have a great summer!


Colonial Williamsburg CONNECT

The next live Connect webcast is June 21 at 7 p.m. Join Cathy Lewis and her guests Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Mercy Otis Warren as they discuss the meaning of independence. Tune in at to watch the program, ask our guests questions, and live chat with other viewers.

Also, through July 11, answer the question "What does independence day mean to me?" in text, pictures, or video and submit it to Connect! Just click on the red "add your thoughts" bar to upload.

Teaching Strategy: Colonial Toys

Learning about the lives of children of the past can help modern children connect and empathize with their ancestors. Toys especially emphasize that while the world is always changing, some things have stayed the same through generations. In this lesson, students will analyze pictures of colonial toys to determine the type of toys available, what they were made of and how they were used.

Colonial Williamsburg Teaching Resources for Your Classroom

2012–2013 Teaching Resources Catalog

Colonial Williamsburg offers a variety of quality American history instructional materials, including a wide variety of colonial toys.

Check out our specials, including 20% off the 2012–2013 EFT season!

Kids Zone: History, Games & Fun

Quotation of the Month

"Play-things, I think, children should have, and of divers sorts; but still to be in the custody of their tutors or somebody else, whereof the child should have in his power but one at once, and should not be suffered to have another but when he restored that. This teaches them betimes to be careful of not losing or spoiling the things they have; whereas plenty and variety in their own keeping, makes them wanton and careless, and teaches them from the beginning to be squanderers and wasters."

—John Locke. Some Thoughts Concerning Education. Vol. XXXVII, Part 1, §130. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909-1914.

Facebook Logo
Colonial Williamsburg for Teachers

2010 Distance Learning Award
21st Century Award
for Best Practices in Distance Learning,
United States Distance Learning Association, 2010

2011 AEP Finalist
Distinguished Achievement Award Finalist 2011
Association of Educational Publishers

The Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip Series is supported in part
by the William and Gretchen Kimball Young Patriots Fund.

If you would like to subscribe to the Teacher Gazette, please send an email to with the subject heading "subscribe."

If you would like to be removed from future Teacher Gazette mailings, please send an email to with the subject heading "unsubscribe."