Monday, January 19, 2015

Bringing the Fur Trade to Life with Book Bartering

This past week, we have been studying the Fur Trade in Wisconsin in our social studies class.  Our text is pretty dry and I felt like my kiddos weren't really catching on to how important the fur trade was in changing the lives of the Native Americans who lived here so long ago.

I wanted them to experience one of the premises of the fur trade -- bartering.  The act of trading items of value for something else.

We did this through a Book Barter.  Any of my students who wanted to participate brought in books from home that they had read and no longer wanted.  (I told them to get their parents' permission first.)

Before our bartering session, we talked about how much value certain books had to us. Sometimes, we had to give more to get less.

I had brought in a copy of Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself book to demonstrate.  When my students saw my book, almost everyone instantly wanted it.  Some students offered me five of their books in return for my one.  (I ended up making a one-to-one trade for a Titanic book that I really wanted.)

My students then went about their bartering and traded books.  As this was happening, I saw looks of contemplation as students considered trades and heard squeals of delight in getting a much wanted book.  When we were through, almost every student walked away with a new-to-them book to read.

 We then brought this back to our study of the fur trade.  How had the Native Americans and explorers given up the things they had for something that had more value for them?

 With the Book Barter, my students had a better grasp of the Fur Trade...and also got some fun new books out of the deal!

How do you bring learning to life in your classroom?


  1. I love this idea! It will be perfect for discussing fur trade in Ohio as well. Plus, the enthusiasm about getting books is always a bonus! Thank you!

    Fit to be Fourth

  2. Love this idea! Really makes learning relevant to the kids!

    Swinging for Success


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