School Projects On Bartering

By James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at .


When I was in the seventh grade, I got an "A" in history every time, because my teacher let me do extra work, for extra credit. I wrote reports regarding Ben Franklin, the Liberty Bell, the Battle of Lexington, and other subjects from that exciting time in U.S. history.

If I had known about bartering, I might have written about the colonists who were trading with one another. (They would trade horses for wooden wagons, or a musket for some wheat.) After all, the new nation did not have a good system of money yet, so the people had to do a lot of bartering.

In many of our classes at school, we can use our knowledge of bartering. And we can learn more about the subject. Here is a list of class projects or reports for some of our classes:


  1. Write a report regarding bartering in colonial America. The colonists traded lumber, corn, nails, and many other items.
  2. Write an essay regarding the use of wampum. The Native Americans used these shells for bartering.
  3. Write about the earliest forms of money. The Romans used salt; the Babylonians used barley and uncoined silver.
  4. Interview some older folks who bartered during the Great Depression of the 1930's. Ask them what they traded, what they got in return, and how they set up the deals. Write a report regarding this.
  5. Make a chart with illustrations of some of the earliest types of money: iron, gold, shells, grains, cloth, weapons. fish, tea, beads, diamonds, and fur.


  1. Draw a scene from "Jack and the Beanstalk," where Jack is trading his cow for the magic beans.
  2. Draw something which you want to get by bartering. You might make a picture of a color TV set, or an IBM computer, or a chocolate cake.
  3. Make something to trade away. This could be a water-color drawing, a portrait of Jennifer, a sculpture, or calligraphy of a poem.
  4. At the end of the school year, take some of your art projects to the flea market, and a rent a booth, to trade them or sell them.
  5. Do some calligraphy, to make a small poster. On the poster, describe something which you want to trade away. Put the poster on a bulletin board (at school or in town).
  6. If your parents are members of a barter club, ask them to use their club's units (like money) to buy art supplies for you.


  1. When you need to write a book report, write the report about this book or another book regarding bartering.
  2. Barter some books to a friend or to a second-hand store, to get other books.


  1. Make something which you know you can trade away.
  2. In the class, find someone who likes to barter. That person will make what you want, and you will make what the person wants. Then you will trade the items.


  1. Write a fictional story about a Russian cosmonaut who lands in your uncle's back yard, and tries to barter with him to get a ride to the Russian embassy.
  2. Write a Christmas play about a boy who barters to get presents for everyone in his family.
  3. Write a story in which you trade a notebook for something else. Then you set up 10 more trades, and each time you get something better. By the tenth trade, you have bartered your way up to a bright red Triumph sports car or another expensive item.
  4. Write an essay to describe 12 ways in which bartering can improve your teacher's life.
  5. Make up a story about the first barter deal which took place in history. A caveman probably traded a spear for a mastodon steak.


  1. Write a song about bartering The lyrics can be fun or serious. They can tell about a deal which you want to make. (In a humorous song, you might trade your bicycle for a space shuttle -- or your radio for the world's fastest computer. Good luck!)
  2. Trade for a new musical instrument. Put an ad on the school's bulletin board, or in your newspaper's classified ads. Ask your music teachers whether they know anyone who might want to make the deal.
  3. Trade your popular-music books with someone else. Then learn the songs from your cousin's "Michael Jackson Songbook,'' while he enjoys your "Mariah Carey Songbook."
  4. Trade music lessons with your friends. Teach them how to play your musical instruments. They can teach you how to play their instruments.