Fur Trader Game

In this lesson, students will learn about life as a voyageur’s family during the Fur Trade and then will play the Fur Trade Game where they collect “furs” to trade for items from a “trading post.”

Created by Elizabeth Phipps Governor General's History Awards Winner 2012 recipient of the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching

Posted November 1, 2019

Grade Levels: 1/2, 3/4, 5

Subject Area: Social Studies/Mathematics

This lesson is inspired by the article “The Business that Created a Country” in the How Furs Built Canada issue of Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids.

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students will hear a story about life as a voyageur’s family during the Fur Trade. The students will then play the Fur Trade Game (like an Easter egg hunt) where they collect furs to trade for items from a “trading post”. The students will complete a “Fur Trader’s Log Book”.

Time Required

50 minute period

Historical Thinking Concepts

  • Establish historical significance
  • Take historical perspectives

Learning Outcomes

Social Studies:

  • Correlate the impact of the land on the lifestyles and settlement patterns of the people.
  • Identify the European influence on pre-confederation Canadian society.

Student will:

  • Complete a Fur Trader’s Log Book by collecting “Beaver Pelts” cards and trading them for items from a trading post.

The Lesson Activity

Before the lesson begins, you need to make a Fur Trader’s Log Book for each student. To do this, photocopy the blackline masters of the book back-to-back, then fold then in half and staple them along the fold. If desired, you can add brown construction paper covers.

You also need to photocopy the “Beaver pelt” cards onto heavier paper and cut them out. Count the number of students playing and create cards for half that number. 

Finally, photocopy and cut out enough of the trading item cards for there to be one set per student.  Separate the trading item cards so there is a pile of each item.

To set up the game: Ask older students or parents to help out and act as the Company Traders. Set up folding tables where the students will bring their “beaver pelts.” The game can be set up on a creative playground (weather permitting) or in the library. Spread the beaver pelts around the area (like Easter eggs).  

Activating: How will students be prepared for learning?

In the classroom, the teacher will read The Voyageur’s Paddle By Kathy-jo Wargin. As a class or individually, students can read the article “The Business that Created a Country” in the How Furs Built Canada issue of Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids. Then the students will be given their “Fur Trader’s Log Book” and they will write their name on the front.

Acquiring: What strategies facilitate learning for groups and individuals?

After explaining the game, the students will move to the location of the game and start collecting “Beaver Pelt” cards. Once they have enough to purchase an item from the store they run to the company traders. That person will glue or staple the “Beaver Pelt” card to the page with the item they want to purchase and then they will glue or staple the appropriate “item” card to the page.

Only permit students to collect what they need to make one trade at a time. This ensures that the game lasts a little longer.

Once the game is over it is time to return to the classroom.

Applying: How will students demonstrate their understanding?

The teacher will lead a class discussion about the students’ experience during the game and then ask them what they think it must have been like to be a real fur trader.  Then time will be given to complete the “Fur Trader’s Log Books”.

Background Information

“Fur Trade”, The Canadian Encyclopedia



Teacher can collect evidence of student learning through the class conversation; from observation during the Fur Trade Game and checking the completion of the student’s “Fur Trader’s Log Book” (product).

Extension Activity

Students can learn the Paddle Song.

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