Title: Let's Make a Deal - Barter 208

Key Words: barter, economic activity, goods and services

National Standard: 11 (patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface)

State Standard: 13 (patterns and networks of economic interdependence)

Teaching Level: Middle School

Introduction: Of and on through life, people are in situations where there is not enough money to get what is wanted or needed. Barter has sometimes been the solution. In this lesson, students will engage in a mock barter session that illustrates trading goods for goods, goods for services, and services for services.

Objective: Students will analyze and evaluate the barter system.

"Goods and Services" Reference Sheet to be used for making 3x5 cards.
3x5 cards - enough for all items on the reference Sheet. BEFORE doing this lesson, PREPARE the 3x5 cards, using the "Goods and Services" Reference Sheet.

Pose the question, "Have you ever traded for anything with a friend? Baseball cards? CDs? Clothes? Elicit responses.

Explain that barter is the proper term for making those deals. Give students the definition: Barter, the exchange of goods or services without the use of money (goods for goods, goods for services, services for services).

Conduct a barter simulation to illustrate each kind of barter. Hand out a 3x5 card to each student. Give them time to make a deal. The deal is made when one card is exchanged for another; for example, the hackysack card was exchanged for the card saying "mow the lawn" ( a good for a service).

Debrief. Discuss the experience. Did anyone fail to make a good trade? Students place different values on things; this will soon surface in the discussion about fair deals. Use it to lead into other factors that might influence the trading situation: wants, needs, urgency, popularity or trendiness, condition of item, etc...

Decide on a date for a real barter experience in which students bring to class some item for trade or certificate for a service which can be traded.

Refocus the lesson by asking students to pretend they are adults, and finish the following statements: "I'll help you shovel off your roof this winter, if you..." We grew too much corn this year and would like to trade some of it for..."

Analyze the barter situation in general terms by making an advantage/disadvantage chart. Some examples that may come from the discussion: Advantages- You do not need money to get something you want. You can get rid of something you do not want. You could build trust through trade. If you have something that is in demand, you can get more than usual for it in trade. There is no sales tax. Disadvantages: You might get cheated. You may not find what you want in trade. What you have to trade might not be valued highly. You might feel compelled to trade away something valuable because of the situation you're in.

Ask students to draw conclusions about what they have learned about barter. Some examples:
Barter is common in today's world.
The values people place on trade items vary with the individual and the circumstances.
There are advantages and disadvantages to barter.

Participate in a real barter experience.

Evaluation/Assesment: Plan a barter day for a neighborhood group. Prepare a convincing argument for the event. Include reference to all three kinds of barter: goods for goods, goods for services, services for services.

Extension/Enrichment: Interview a person who remembers The Great Depression and ask about the use of barter.

Wartime can set the stage for barter. Students might interview a veteran or a civilian on the homefront to find out what kinds of items were common in barter.

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.
Thank you,
The authors

Reference Sheet for Goods and Services


A candy bar
A soda, water, juice
A tee shirt
A pocket size mirror
A new ball-point pen
A back issue of a popular magazine
A paperback book
A CD of a popular group
A collector's coin in good condition
A set of colored pencils or colored markers
A used skateboard in good condition
A hackysack
A piece of costume jewelry
A bag of marbles
A set of collectible stamps
A pair of sunglasses


A bike repair
Clean your locker
Organize your three ring binder
Tutoring in math or any other subject
Take care of a pet for the weekend
Baby-sit a cranky toddler for two hours
Do a load of laundry
Mow the lawn
Weed the garden
Rake the leaves
Walk the dog
Clean the litter box
Wash the car
Teach you how to dance
Clean your room
Help you study for a test

Back to document index

Original file name: 208rtf - converted on Tuesday, 20 October 1998, 20:56

This page was created using TextToHTML. TextToHTML is a free software for Macintosh and is (c) 1995,1996 by Kris Coppieters