Thursday, November 10, 2011

Michigan History Week: 6-7

Michigan History Week 6-7 - French Explorers and the Fur Trade

For the last few weeks we have been discussing the French explorers who discovered Michigan.  We started with Etienne Brule, who was the first European to step foot in our beloved state.  We saw that some explorers such as Father Marquette were missionaries and others were after land, gold and furs.  We covered RenĂ©-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, Louis Joliet and Antoine Cadillac as well.  This also covered the founding of cities such as Detroit, St. Ignace and Sault St. Marie.

We weren't very creative with our French explorer activities. Last year we started time lining using the History Through the Ages system from Homeschool In the Woods.  I did the Cd based books and printed my own, seen below.

My kids love them and I try to add all famous people and events from all our subjects into them every couple of weeks.  (Although we need to be a little more proactive on this)

So for our French explorers we simply added them to our time line books and also a set to out Michigan History Notebook.  Unfortunately the French explorers we covered are not included with the CD of figures from Homeschool In the Woods.  I then searched the internet for photos of our explorers and added text and sized them to match our other figures.

The kids were greatly saddened to learn that one of the most profitable ventures in  the new land was the fur trade.  They said beavers were to cute to kill and be made into hats.  We also discussed the barter system set up by the voyeurs for trading with the Native Americans, based on the "made beaver".  I had found a neat little chart showing what various furs are worth, from the state department of history.   Since it's no longer on the state site.  Here is a look at the chart.

Type of pelt                    Value in Made Beaver    
Large Beaver                               1                          
Small Beaver                               ½                          
Bear                                         2                           
Deer                                            ½                           
Mink                                           ½                           
Otter                                            2      
Trade Item                   Price in Made Beaver    
1 sack of wild rice                      3
1 sack of corn                             2
100Whitefish                             7
15 lbs. bear grease                     4
30ft. canoe                               25
Gun                                         14
Hat                                            2
Blanket                                     4
Trap                                          5

We had a lot of fun discussing what we could get for each animal.  They were also surprised that a deer which should be larger than a beaver was not as valuable.

For our next lessons well let's just say "the British are coming"

So until next time, happy learning.