Speaking to a group of 6th graders


Yesterday I spoke to two large groups of 6th graders here in my home town of Grand Rapids, Mn.  The subject: The Great Lakes Fur Trade 1700-1800.  I start by asking the class to imagine a world without electrical power.  What would life be without electricity?  Yet, that was the world of the early American frontier where practical survival was a full-time job.  I love talking with people about the frontier.  Kids (and adults) love things that they can actually see and touch, so I always bring as many visual aids as is practical.  I also like to interact with the students.  Yesterday went very well; we covered many important points germane to the Great Lakes fur trade era.  I also brought along period snow shoes,  a 10 foot toboggan, a birch bark canoe model, various furs, wool blankets, all sorts of clothing and tools, including a fur trade era flintlock era Indian trade gun.  One highlight was demonstrating fire making with a bow drill.  The bow drill was lent to me by my good friend Larry Spisak.  I don’t know how many kids were in the classes, but I bet it tops two hundred.  All of us have learning styles and for kids being able to have their book learning augmented with material objects and also to be able to actually use them helps bring the subject matter that they are studying into clearer focus.  I commend the teacher who invited me to do this (Angela S.) for caring enough about here students to invite me it there, it was really a privilege.  The pictures do a better job of telling the story.


I just received this very nice review from the teacher who invited me to speak to the whole 6th grade class. A lot of work goes into preparation for something like this. Many of my historical interpreter friends know this. It is nice to know that our efforts are appreciated. “The RJEMS 6th grade students and teachers enjoyed the Fur Trade/1800’s presentation. Mr. Sage had command of the group, brought the kids into the time period, and was a true teacher. It was a great culminating activity for some students, and a good anticipatory activity for others. We appreciated the all the materials brought in and wish we had time to explore more! Thanks for a blast!”

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