Home: The Story of Maine
A Part of the Main: European Settlement of the
Lesson #3: Making a Living
For use with Module 2
Alignment with the Maine Learning Results
A CREATIVE AND PRACTICAL PROBLEM SOLVER
- Observes situations objectively to clearly and accurately
- Generates a variety of solutions, builds a case for the
best response, and critically evaluates the effectiveness of
A COLLABORATIVE AND QUALITY WORKER
- Knows the structure and functions of the labor market.
- Demonstrates reliability, flexibility, and concern for
Students will use the chronology of history and major
eras to demonstrate the relationships of events and people.
MIDDLE GRADES 5-8
Students will be able to describe the effects of
historical changes on daily life.
B. HUMAN INTERACTION WITH ENVIRONMENTS
Students will understand and analyze the relationships
among people and their physical environment.
MIDDLE GRADES 5-8
Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding
of how society changes as a consequence of concentrated
A. PERSONAL AND CONSUMER ECONOMICS
Students will understand that economic decisions are
based on the availability of resources and the costs and
benefits of choices.
MIDDLE GRADES 5-8
Students will be able to identify and analyze the
factors that contribute to personal spending and savings
- Analyze information about colonial Maine and the resources
available to European settlers.
- Work collaboratively to create hypothetical financial plans
for a colonial Maine family living on the frontier.
- Exercise their ability to think creatively about ways to
use the resources available to them.
- Compare the economic decisions of frontier families to
those of modern Maine families.
- Learn some of the responsibility that is involved in
supporting a family and making a living.
Timing: 5-6 class periods, with time at home to write
Mainers enjoy a nationwide reputation of self-sufficiency
and resourcefulness. Maine’s first European inhabitants helped
create this image. During colonial times, Maine was the
frontier, and its people had to learn to get by with very little
outside help. They had plenty of land, timber, water, game, and
fish, but little cash, few neighbors, and many dangers. Yet,
they survived. This lesson explores Maine’s historically
inventive and resourceful character, while encouraging students
to think practically about what it takes to make a living.
- Budget Worksheet
- Assignment Sheet #3
- Grading Rubric #3
- After viewing A Part of the Main: European
Settlement of the Mainland with your students, discuss what
life was like for the first European settlers in Maine. How did
they make a living? What resources were available to them? What
obstacles did they face? Make a list on the board.
- Discuss with students that the primary task of most
frontier families was simply to make ends meet. People today
struggle with the same problem, but within a different economic
system, and with different resources available to them. Tell
students they will have a chance to simulate the experience of
making ends meet on the frontier.
- Break students into groups of 3-4. Present them with their
task. They will be presented with a list of information about a
colonial family living on the Maine frontier. Using the
information given to them, they will create a financial plan for
this family for one year. What expenses will they have? How will
they meet those expenses? Assign students roles such as
facilitator, timekeeper, recorder, and presenter, to make their
group work more efficient. See Assignment Sheet #3 and the
Budget Worksheet for details.
Note: You may want to coax students to be as
specific as possible by estimating one category together as a
class. For example, brainstorm with students how much clothing a
family of eleven might need during a year. The children are
growing quickly, and by the end of the year they may all have
outgrown their shoes. But, instead of buying or making 9 new
pairs of shoes, you can save money by having the older children
hand their shoes down to the younger ones. Some shoes will still
need repairs, which will either cost money or time, and other
shoes may need to be replaced, so to be safe, you might estimate
the need for 3 new pairs of shoes for the whole family over the
course of a year. Encourage students to be specific as they
think about how they will meet their expenses as well. Where
will they find the shoes? Will they barter with the traveling
cobbler—offering him surplus food or housing? Or will they make
their own shoes—tan their own leather from deer hide? Even if
students cannot answer all of these questions, this exercise
encourages them to see how self-sufficient and resourceful
colonial families had to be.
- Have each group present their budget to the class.
- After each group has presented their budget, ask students
to compare the ways that families made ends meet in 1690 with
how they make ends meet today. What kinds of resources are
available to us today that were not available then? How has the
economy changed? What are the reasons for these changes? How do
you think the economy might change 150 years from now?
- For homework, have students write a brief essay comparing a
colonial family’s economic decisions with those of a modern-day
Maine family. How have the changes in the world affected
peoples’ daily lives?
- Have students evaluate their group work and their
individual essays using the Grading Rubric #3. Evaluate them
yourself, using the same criteria.
- Have students create a budget for themselves for a week or
a month, and see if they can follow it. How accurate were their
estimates of what they would need to spend? How did the results
compare with their estimates?