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Colonial America – Create a Colonial Marketplace

August 20, 2011


Creating crafts can be very educational and fun!

Creating crafts like in the marketplace, can be very educational and fun!

Colonial American Marketplaces

Creating a colonial marketplace is a fun activity for kids to participate in. Colonist usually exchanged things they made or crops they grew for things they needed.  This is called “bartering” or trading. Making a good trade was important for both parties – it needed to be fair for everyone!

Have your child research and create materials for a shop commonly found in a colonial town between 1700  and  1775.  Once they have decided on the types of shops, have create the products and show how to make them. These are some of the crafts/products that can be made:

  • Quilt – with paper or cloth
  • Quill writing
  • Toys or games
  • Ladies Fans
  • Knitting
  • Sun Dial
  • Weather Vane
  • Weaving with straw or yarn
  • Soap Carving
  • Braided Rugs
  • Papyrotamia
  • Tin Lanterns
  • Candle Making
  • Embroidery
  • Corn Husk Dolls
  • Crocheting
  • Tri-corn Hats
  • Items to play “Game of Grace”
  • Mop Caps
  • Stenciling
  • Silhouettes
  • Rope
  • Puppets
  • Capes
  • Hats
  • Aprons
  • Leather-like pouches
  • Hard Tack (cracker)
  • Apple Pie
  • Stew
  • Brown Betty or other bread

When everyone has at least 4 items of their craft completed, it’s time to set up their shops!  They will need to make a sign to advertise what they are selling.  Inviting others to participate and enjoy the event is a wonderful way to empower your child.  It tells them that you are very proud of their work without you ever having to say it!  To prepare them to speak to others about the craft,  you may want your child to write up a description of it, explaining how it was made and how it was used in colonial times.  This would also be a good way to assess if your child really has an understanding of the period and the craft that they have chosen.

Now is time to talk about bartering.  Explaining to your children that they can buy anything at the market, without money!  You’ll have their attention!  They will need to work with each other to trade their craft for another craft that they need or want.  Then the shop keepers take turns “shopping”.  The shop keeper and the customer come up with an agreement to make the best trades for both parties.

Hosting an event to highlight a unit of study is a great way for your children to shine!  It gives them lots of feedback and opportunity to show what they have learned in a non-threatening way.

There is a old game called Bazaar that the players barter to get what they need – fun for all ages!

Here is a more complete list of trades and craftsmen of the time, if your child is having difficulty selecting one of the above:

Baker                    Cutler                       Nailor                       Watchmaker           Engraver                Gardner               Painter                     Weaver                     Filesmith                 Pewterer                            Wheelwright       Bookbinder             Founder                   Plasterer                  Whitesmith              Breechesmaker                                     Printer                      Minister                   Bricklayer            Ropemaker         Tavern Keepers      Builder                      Glazier                      Saddler                     Teachers              Butcher                    Glover                       Shoemaker               Surgeon                    Cabinetmaker     Silversmith             Merchants                Staymaker               Milners                              Gunsmith             Stockingmaker      Attorney                   Harnessmaker       Accountant             Chandler              Hatter                       Tanner                     Artists                     Collarmaker            Joiner                   Turner                      Musicians                Cook                        Leatherdresser    Upholstery          Cooper                     Linen Draper           Mantau Maker        Shearman            Apothecary         Dentist                     Barber/wigmaker                          Blacksmith/Armorer                           Chair/Coachmaker                        Tailor/Tailoress                                    Doctor/physician                        Carpenter/Joiner                                  Groom/Farrier       Carver/Guilder

For more information on the trades, Colonial Williamsburg has some great information.

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