Colonial Trades: Making Community Work

What did people do for work in colonial times?

At Pierce House or Your Site

Students learn what life was like on Pierce Farm during the years leading up to the Revolution. A pre-visit activity based on Colonel Samuel Pierce’s account book allows students to take on the roles of real Dorchester residents, including farmers, weavers and blacksmiths.

Students learn about the goods and services each of their characters provided to the community and play a bartering game that mimics the economic system of the colonial Dorchester. Hands-on spinning and weaving activities allow students to further explore the production of goods using colonial resources and technology.


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Available weekdays, year-round, for grades 3 – 5.

Please note we have had to increase our prices, effective September 2022. This is our first increase for these programs since 2005.

At the Museum
2.5 hours, maximum group size: 25.
Cost: $200 for up to 20 students, and an additional $10/student for groups of 21-25.

At Your Site
1.5 hours, maximum group size: 30 students per program
Cost: 1 program: $200. 2 programs (same day): $300. 3 programs (same day): $375. In addition, a mileage fee will be added at the time of booking.

Type of Program: Field Trips, Programs to Go

Related Topics: Colonial Life, Fiber Arts, Revolutionary Period

Sample Primary Source: In the page from his account book shown below, Colonel Samuel Pierce of Dorchester keeps track of the goods and services he traded with his brother, Edward Pierce, between the years 1774-1776. This account book is part of Historic New England Library and Archives collection.

Curriculum Links

Connections to Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks

History and Social Science (August 2003 version)

Concepts and Skills: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10

Learning Standards: 3.8, 3.9, 3.11, 3.12, 3.13

Concepts and Skills: 1, 2, 14

Learning Standards: 5.10, 5.11

View full frameworks from the Massachusetts Department of Education

English Language Arts and Literacy: Grade 3 (adopted March 2011, page numbers from Common Core linked below)

1 and 7 (p. 14)

4 (pg. 17)

1 and 3 (p. 24)

View full Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and Literacy

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