Here is a simulation game for learning about trade. It was designed with the Osage and their trade partners in mind, but you can adapt the cards to suit your local populations — or the Vikings and the Ostragoths, for that matter.
- Copy the trade cards below onto cardstock several times, enlarging as desired. Let students illustrate the cards, based on classroom discussions or research into the uses of the various resources named.
- Laminate sheets. Cut cards apart. Alternatively, have students use Blank Flash Cards to create a set of trading cards.
- Divide class into four or more groups, assigning roles ( such as Osage, Cherokee, European American settlers, U.S. Army) if you like.
- Shuffle and distribute cards. Do not attempt to be completely fair. For older students, you might add criteria. That is, if one group historically was at a disadvantage, you might put them at a disadvantage for the game as well, discussing why they might have fewer resources to begin with.
- Explain that the object of the game is to end up with at least one of each available resource card. Decide on and announce the length of time that the class will have to play the game.
- As students attempt to gain a winning hand, notice and list the strategies they use. Possible strategies might include these:
- Alliances against other groups
- Gaining monopolies to increase power
Once all groups have succeeded in getting at least one of each resources card, or when any unsuccessful group has given up, discuss the methods used. Connect these with historical facts when possible. For example, the Osage were very good at hunting, so they had many furs to trade when European Americans came along. This allowed them early access to horses and guns, which gave them significant military power among the Native Americans of their region.