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Colonial America – Advertise Your Trade

October 28, 2010
Traditonal sign for a tavern.

The Fat Pig tavern sign.

The Art of the Trade

The colonial tradesmen would make signs that hung outside their shops. Sometimes they were funny.  Many colonist couldn’t read, so encourage them to make a simple drawing of what your child plans to sell, make or repair on the sign.

Materials needed:

  • construction paper
  • markers or colored pencils
  • see sample shapes for signs


  • Let your child decide on one trade to make a clever sign for or they might want to make one  for all of the trades if they will be doing a model.
  • Have them think of what kind of object would advertise the trade.  They’ll need to think of an object that would explain what is being sold to draw on the sign.
  • Have them keep in mind to make it simple and big so people can see it clearly from a distance and make it colorful!
  • Have them make a border around the edge and cut it out.

Another activity to do:

  • Vendors would also walk through the streets selling their trades.
  • They would sing or call our a phrase to get people’s attention as they walked. “Hot cross buns, hot cross bun, one a penny, two a penny!” is a classic.
  • Have your child write something that could be called out to announce his trade goods to others.



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