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Oxcart Man

Historic America is explored when a family takes to market and sells goods they made and grew during the year. With the sale of these items they are able to buy what they need. A lesson in economics is explored with the help of the book Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. The book Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall tells the story of a New England farming family and their trip to town in the fall. On the farm they grew vegetables, sheared wool from sheep, spun the yarn and knitted mittens to be sold. They gathered feathers from geese, maple syrup from trees, and honey from hives. The farmer’s handmade cart was loaded with the family’s labors and pulled into town to sell their goods. With the coins received from the sale he purchased supplies needed for his family and farm.
    2. Read the book out loud and show pictures to help students visualize a colonial farmer’s life.
    3. Create an art project illustrating what could be traded or sold. Use Crayola® Construction Paper Crayons and Construction Paper to make items for sale. Cut out pieces and decorate with crayons. Glue to a colorful piece of Construction Paper. Allow glue to dry.
    4. Continue the project with a second artwork of what you could purchase with coins. Discuss the difference between what farmer wanted and what he needed.
    5. The story presents an economic lesson to both producer and consumer. The family concentrates on what they do best so that they have the ability to purchase what they want or need.
  • Standards

    LA: Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain or describe.

    LA: Ask and answer such questions as who, what where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details of text.

    SS: Distinguish between needs and wants.

    SS: Describe how we depend on workers with specialized jobs and the ways in which they contribute to the productions and exchange of goods and services.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

  • Adaptations

    Adapt this lesson to current day. What could you make and sell to be able to purchase something that you needed or wanted? Some examples could include doing chores around the house to earn an allowance, babysitting, mowing lawns or raking leaves. Discuss the importance of producers and consumers in our economy.

    For a lesson in Social Studies, a comparison could be made of how the past compares to our present day lives. How do we acquire goods in our modern day society as compared to the story?

    Create a trading game in the classroom. Assign jobs to each of the students and have them trade services from other students. The jobs could be simple classroom tasks, cleaning the whiteboard, emptying trash, recycling paper, etc. Each student could complete their tasks or trade with others for different jobs.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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