Hooray for the Hardware Store: It Keeps Us Together

Hooray for the Hardware Store: It Keeps Us Together
Florence Harding: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One to two class periods


Florence Harding's father owned a hardware store in Marion, Ohio, a place where young Florence often worked and learned valuable business skills.  But the story of the hardware store is the story of America--a place that sells "the elements that hold our world together," and "the place we go when things fall apart."


Students who participate in this activity will learn something about the history of the hardware store in the U.S., and the importance often placed upon small things like nails. They will also visit a hardware store, and note items of interest found there.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet. Pencils and paper for taking notes.


1.  Introduce the lesson by asking students if they have ever been in a hardware store.  (Home Depot and Lowe's probably count, but a small town hardware store would be better!)

2.  Assign students to read the article listed on the website below, and, in whole class discussion, ask the following questions:

  • in what ways has the hardware store had "a central place in history"?
  • what is the origin of the saying, "getting down to brass tacks"?
  • what tool is called "the grandfather of tools"?
  • where and when did nails originate?
  • why did Thomas Jefferson turn to nail production when his crops were bad?

3.  Arrange for students to visit a local hardware store; ask them to take notes on interesting things they find there.

4.  Have students report back, and select the MOST interesting thing found.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson might be extended by having students build a miniature hardware store, complete with stock (finding tiny items to represent real stock is fun, and encourages creativity!)

Sources & Resources:



This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.