School Tours/Youth Ed


Smith’s Castle at Cocumscussoc offers tours and trunk shows presented by trained docents in colonial attire to bring history alive for students and youth groups.  All programs are age appropriate and standard-based, with portions of the tours offering optional hands-on enrichment for children to experience wool carding,  handling pelts, corn meal grinding using a mortar and pestle, and trying on yokes and buckets which would have been used for fetching water. All docents undergo an annual BCI (criminal background check). 

We can accommodate up to 60 children for house tours.  This is accomplished by breaking the students up into groups of no more than 10 with each group rotating through rooms staffed by docents.  It is recommended that a planned visit to the Castle should allow for at least a one-and-one-half to two-hour stay so that each stop at a designated station lasts approximately 15 minutes.

Activities are used to reinforce covered topics.  Again, we offer them based upon the abilities evidenced by specific ages, and we defer to modern, safer methodology when necessary.  For example – we use plastic jars to make butter, and we have constant access to cell phones in case of emergency.  We also adjust our programming when we are notified of any personal disabilities within any given group.  For example, for those who cannot climb stairs, we provide a video version of a tour of the upstairs that can be displayed on a laptop or projected on to a screen for large groups.

If transportation to Smith’s Castle is not feasible, docents can go to classrooms or meeting locations bringing transportable items to explain Cocumscussoc’s history.   Items brought for trunk shows include:

a wetu model, a model of the Castle as it was originally designed, wampum beads, metal impements, animal pelts, mortar, pestle, flint corn, flax, raw wool and carders, samples of dried foods, and yoke with buckets.  A trunk show can be customized based upon the requested topic to be covered.




*prices listed on form are effective through December 31, 2019

Smith's Castle

55 Richard Smith Drive

North Kingstown, RI 02852 

Please connect to the link for the Youth Education contract for information regarding current fees.   Please feel free to contact the Castle Office at 401-294-3521 or e-mail: with any questions, and the Youth Education Coordinator will respond promptly.

We are very impressed with the young scholars from Rocky Hill School and the article that appeared recently in the Independent: Click Here!


A general overview of grade-level topics includes:

K-Grade 2:    What was it like to be a child in colonial Rhode Island?

An overview of Rhode Island history is the backdrop for a sensory presentation of what colonial Rhode Island was like.  The contrast between children’s modern-day lives and those of colonial children is presented with an emphasis on the lack of present-day conveniences and the need for early childhood responsibilities, particularly in a typical rural household. 

The tour includes:

A comparison of the children’s home kitchen vs. the Castle kitchen.  What food would they have eaten?

How was food preserved before refrigerators?  How was water obtained before indoor faucets?    What chores would a 5-to-8 year old be expected to do?  How was food cooked?


How were bedrooms different from their bedrooms today?


What medicines would they take if they were sick with colds, burns, scrapes?


What clothing would they have worn?                          


What animals would have been on their farms?  What sounds did they make?


ACTIVITY:  1. Butter making: All students (groups of 10) take turns shaking a plastic jar of heavy cream until it becomes butter (app. 20 minutes) Butter is then served on bread slices.  We are able to make accommodations for those who have dairy and/or gluten allergies provided that we are informed prior to the day of the visit.


                    2.  Herb planting:  Colonial homes had “kitchen gardens” in which herbs were planted both for seasoning cooking as well as for medicinal purposes.  Children can choose seeds to plant in peat pots that are then labeled and securely closed for them to take home to observe their progress.


Grade 3, 4, and 5: The Trading Post Era


This tour provides an introduction to how Roger Williams and Richard Smith established trading posts at Cocumscussoc, which originated as a spring and summer campsite for the Narragansett Tribe.  An explanation is provided regarding how trading began, how and why the Narragansetts requested that a permanent trading post be established there, and what items were exchanged.


An age-appropriate description is given regarding the decline in trust between the settlers and the Native-Americans that culminated in King Phillip’s War, including the Great Swamp Massacre.

An explanation is provided of how the site became a plantation following King Phillip’s War as well as a definition of the term “plantation” and its significance in the development of slavery and its implications in the Rhode Island colonial economy.


The house tour demonstrates the colonial lifestyle for children ages 8 to 10, including expectations regarding chores, manners, and behavior.   The education of wealthy colonial children is also addressed, which entailed private tutoring, particularly for males. 


Activities:   1. Students can make small felt bead bags which represent the deer-skin pouches that Native Americans would have used to carry food and supplies.  This craft takes approximately 15 minutes to make since kits are prepared ahead of time with the required supplies.   Plastic beads are used to decorate the outsides of the pouches, and an explanation is given that the beads the Narragansett Tribe would have used would have been sea shells with more specialized precision given to wampum, which was used as currency.


                     2.  Students can learn colonial lettering which has evolved into modern-day calligraphy.  They practice the lettering using pencils, and the lesson culminates in them using quill pens that they dip in inkwells filled with washable tempura paint to write messages and their names on scrolled paper that they can bring home.  While they are working on this activity, an explanation is presented regarding colonial education which was not standardized and varied by rural and urban locations.  


                    3.  Students can use geometric skills to paste pre-cut cloth pieces to prepare quilts based upon known colonial patterns.  Sample quilt pieces are provided to demonstrate the configurations.


Grades 6 and up:  The previously stated information is presented in the house tour.  In addition, teachers can request specific relevant topics such as the evolution of trade with Native American tribes along Narragansett Bay, Roger Williams’ stay at Cocumcussoc, King Phillip’s War, slavery in the Plantation Era, the lives of Richard Smith’s descendants who lived on the site, etc.