On the French Frontier 1700-1800

Teachers Livre's Worth Lesson Plan

Grades: 3 - 6
Subjects: Social Studies and Math
Concepts: Barter Economy
Can Use With: Voices and Choices: Ambroise Moreau

Learning Objectives

After completing this activity, students will be able to:
  1. Describe how the barter economy of colonial Illinois worked
  2. Understand the livre as a measure of relative value
  3. Use their math skills in a real-life situation
(To see overall Social Studies Learning Objectives click here)


Students are given a choice of 8 household objects that they can choose from. These objects were listed in the estate inventory of Marie Catherine Baron in 1748.

Each object represents a mathematical word problem. Students are given the value in livres of the object and the value in livres of an agricultural product they can trade for this object. Students must compute how much of the agricultural product they would need to trade for this object. For example if a student chooses the armchair which equals 12 livres they must determine how many pounds of flour they will need to trade for the armchair if 12 pounds of flour equals 3 livres. The correct answer is 48 pounds.

Students enter their answer on the computer. Students can try again until they get the correct answer. When they get the correct answer the computer shows the object next to the amount of the agricultural product.


Assign this activity to partners or as an individual assignment. This activity can compliment a math class or social studies class.

Going Deeper

Use this activity in conjunction with the story of Ambroise Moreau to help students understand how a barter economy works, as well as to discuss the theme of scarcity and surplus. Bring up the following questions: Ask students for their opinion as to why certain these items had the most value.

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© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96