1. To introduce the lesson, discuss with students the meaning of the word, “trade” as a skilled practice or occupation (see definition #6, and examples in #4, below). Talk about some of the tradespeople with whom students may be familiar, such as carpenters, plumbers, carpet layers, or electricians.
2. Then, using the Colonial Williamsburg site listed below, ask each student to select a trade from the 20 that are listed, and research it by clicking on the name of the trade. Students may also browse the larger site, looking for examples of the practice of the trade they selected (there are a number of slide shows and other resources on the site, including KidZone). Students should take notes on their research for a later essay.
When each student has done his or her research, assign them a short paper that begins with the following prompt:
You are eight years old and live in Colonial Williamsburg. You are old enough now to begin learning a trade, so that you will be able to earn a living when you grow up. You have chosen to learn the _______________ trade. Describe what knowledge and skills you will need to learn and how long you think it will probably take. Include in your essay answers to the following questions:
· In order to be accomplished in this trade, will you need to know how to read?
· In order to be accomplished in this trade, will you need to know arithmetic?
· What difficulties do you foresee in learning this trade?
· What strengths and interests do you have that will help you learn this trade?
3. When the papers are complete, provide an opportunity for students to share them with the class, and perhaps display them in a special place in the classroom.
4. As a concluding activity, discuss with students the differences between learning a trade in the 18th century and learning one today.
Carlson, Laurie. Colonial Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in the New World. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1997.
King, David C. Colonial Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes. Jossey-Bass, 1997.
Definition of a Trade As An Occupation
The Trades in Colonial Williamsburg
This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.