Through the use of folk tales, history, and the students' own experiences, students will recognize the inter-relatedness of goods, services, money. They will locate information about barter as a means of trade, use folk tales as an historical instrument.


Barter, Exchange, Goods, Interdependence, Services


  • Recognize the inter-relatedness of goods, services, money.
  • Locate information about barter as a means of trade.
  • Use folk tales as an historical illustration of wampum.
  • Create a tie between wampum and currency.


 Teacher may wish to read or make copies of The Wampum Bird folktales before the children's lesson starts.

In this lesson students will:
1. Brainstorm and record situations from their own experiences that are examples of receiving:

  • goods for servicesmoney
  • goods for money
  • money for goods
  • money for services
  • services for goods
  • services for money
  • goods for goods
  • services for services

2. Learn historical information about barter as trade.
3. Determine if all barter is fair.
4. Read about wampum as a medium of exchange.
5. Recognize wampum as a forerunner of today's currency.
6. Create a craft project to symbolize wampum.

Helpful prerequisites
Students will need some experience opening Internet sites.
Students will need familiarity with definitions for these vocabulary words:
goods, services, trade, currency.
Wampum History and Background provides helpful background information for the teacher.


  • The Wampum Bird: A Native American folktale describing the first wampum.
    [EEL-link id='178' title='' ]
  • Wampum History and Background: Helpful background information for the teacher.
    [EEL-link id='179' title='' ]
  • Welcome to the Trade Museum:  This site focuses on the word "Barter," defines what it is, and provides examples.
  • Oneida Wampum String: This site has a picture of wampum and a wealth of information about it.
  • History of Wampum: Use this resource to help the students understand the role wampum has played throughout history.
  • The Haudenosaunee & Wampum: Several pictures of wampum and a short description of the making of wampum are located on this site.


1. Organize students in pairs or small groups. Introduce vocabulary words from the chalkboard or a chart. Discuss meanings.

2. Pair the words, goods, services, and money. Ask for examples from the children's lives that would illustrate the situations:

Example-- Money for Service
"I mowed Grandma's lawn. She paid me $5.00.

Example-- Goods for Goods
"My friend traded me two of his baseball cards for a special one of mine."

Example--Services for Goods
"I helped our older neighbor clean her garage and she gave me an old baseball mitt that belonged to her son."


3. Ask/discuss how many of the situations recorded could not have taken place before money came into being.

Ask/discuss how people long ago acquired goods and services without coins or currency. Note which student ideas are examples of barter and which use a medium of exchange (money). Point out that money can be more than coins and currency.

4. Direct students to "Welcome to the Trade Museum ". Ask students to read the story of barter and make decisions about the answers to the Pop Quiz at the end.

5. Ask students to explain in their own words, WHY barter became too impractical, cumbersome, and complicated.

wampum6. Return to the primitive form of money in early North American history, tell or read the folk tales from "The Wampum Bird " site.

7. Direct students to the "Wampum Belts Fact Sheet " which has a picture as well as more information.

Read and discuss with the students.


9. A wampum time line, pictures and a short description of how to make wampum are available on these two sites.

-This page includes a time line of the uses of wampum. Use this time line to help the students understand the role wampum has played throughout history.

-The Haudenosaunee & Wampum provides several pictures of wampum and a short description of the making of wampum are located on this site.

Discuss ideas from the time line and the pictures that are age-appropriate or that tie to other studies in your curriculum.

10. Close with a review of the key concepts and vocabulary words.


From this lesson we can conclude that money may or may not be found in a trade, and that trades may or may not be fair to all traders.


Construct strings of wampum with purple and white construction paper. Cut 8" long slender triangles with a 3/4" to l" base. Roll around a pencil to start. Tighten a bit, but leave space for yarn to pass through the "bead". Glue in place. String the paper beads on a piece of yarn. Students should share the string of wampum at home. Challenge boys and girls to tell families one idea (learned from the lesson) for each bead on their string of wampum.