Classroom Activities About the Fur Trade


Pioneers often trapped a wide variety of animals for their fur. In social studies, students learn of fur trapping, what animals were commonly used for fur and locations for fur trade. Including activities for your students to use the learned information in creative ways while reviewing and retaining the facts is an effective teaching strategy to instruct students on fur trade.

Animal Trading Cards

  • Students will gather information on each animal used for fur trade during the pioneer days. Draw a picture of one animal on the front of a blank index card or cut out a photocopied picture, color it and glue to the card. On the reverse side of the trading card, write notable statistics about the animal such as habitats, locations to be found, eating habits and a description of the fur provided.


  • Children will construct dioramas of typical trading posts used to distribute fur. In addition, students will decide on a specific location for their fur-trading posts and create a map according to information such as water ways, used roads or pathways and where pioneers have already settled. Often completed as a group project, building dioramas is an imaginative activity to include in the social studies lesson.

Then-and-Now Activity

  • After discussion about fur trade, allow the students to create a then-and-now chart to compare life in the 1600s with today's fur trade. Which animals were -- and which are still -- used for fur? What was the fur used for and how is it used today? Devise a list of differences for students to describe regarding fur trade.

Furry Compositions

  • Fake fur is available at your local craft or fabric store and adds an artful element to assignments by layering the fabric with the piece of writing paper. Instruct students to choose one animal commonly used in the pioneer days for fur and write a few paragraphs about its uses, its habits and its environment. Using a scrap piece of fake fur fabric, cut an outline of the animal and staple it to the front or back of the paper depending on fabric size.


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