Lesson Plan

The Blacksmith in Society Lesson Plan #2 - Mapping Your Community

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
Commerce and Industry, Community, Economics, History, Pioneer America, Slavery, Social Studies
Group Size:
Up to 36 (6-12 breakout groups)
National/State Standards:
Maryland Learning Outcomes (MLO) 1.2, 1.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.8, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4
Blacksmith, Economics, Industrial Development, Slavery


Blacksmith Shop. Lesson Plan #2 - Mapping Your Community.

The glow from the blacksmith's forge led civilization from the dark ages and brought humankind to the standard of living enjoyed today. The blacksmith was the only craftsman to work with the four elemental substances of fire, earth, air and water, which according to the ancients, were combined to create our world. 

Five lesson plans are available for the Blacksmith in Society.


  • To develop mapping skills and help students become more familiar with the physical layout of their community.
  • To compare 18th century transportation with modern transportation, showing how customer mobility changes the definition of a "convenient location."
  • To show how the residential population of an area shifts over time, as citizens change their attitudes toward living near industrial activities.


Mass production, the industrial revolution and disposable products rendered the blacksmith obsolete. Until this time, around the turn of the 20th century, virtually every citizen needed a blacksmith to make or repair tools or devices that helped sustain or improve their lifestyle. Blacksmith shops were established in locations convenient to the customers. This lesson uses historic documents and current maps to determine where historic blacksmith shops were located in a chosen community. This information will be used to draw comparisons/contrasts with current automobile repair shops and population centers.


1. Entries from community directories or other source that lists the location of blacksmith shops during a chosen historic era. (These may be found in the local history room at the public library.)

2. If possible, an expendable copy of a local map from the same era as the directory entries for each student or group. (A sample map and directory are provided for Hagerstown, MD, 1877)

3. Current community directory or phone book.

4. Expendable copy of a current local map for each student or group. (A map of Hagerstown taken from the 1999 Maryland Highway Map is provided.)



Suggested Activity

1. After acquainting the students with the importance of the blacksmith to the citizens of the 17th through 19th century, share the directory information that shows the location of historic blacksmith shops of yours, or a chosen community. (Hopefully, the names of streets and roads will be familiar to the students.)

2. Distribute maps of the chosen community to each student or group. Have the students plot the location of the historic blacksmith shops on the map.

3. If population centers for this community have changed over time, share the location of historic neighborhoods with students, telling them generally how many people lived in each area. Ask children to determine how far the historic blacksmith shops were from neighborhoods, roads or other transportation and to deduce how location affected the customer base for each shop. (Supplemental Information for Lesson Plan #2 was the source of population information for the sample map.)

4. Using current information, from community directories or phone books, have students determine the location of current automobile repair shops. Explain the similarities between the historic blacksmith shop and the current automobile repair shops. (If the community is large, assign a specific area to each student or group.)

5. Once the locations of modern automobile repair shops have been determined, have students plot these on a copy of the local map. Direct students to use different symbols for the historic and modern shops and to develop a legend to make the map meaningful for others.

6. After the map is complete, ask students to determine how the location of the historic blacksmith shops and the modern automobile repair shops compare with the location of population centers and roads or transportation routes. If the chosen community is typical, it will become obvious that service centers are now clustered in locations outside residential areas and near major roads.


Follow-up Activities

1. Allow students to become "city planners". Have them draw a map of the ideal city, showing residential, service, shopping and recreational areas.

2. Ask students to interview friends and relatives about the changes in business and industry have changed the definition of a "desirable" neighborhood in their community. After comparing stories, have students write a short essay about the evolution of a particular neighborhood as influenced by transportation and industry.

3. People, by necessity, used to live close to where they worked. Commuting became popular as automobiles became available. Have students poll 5 people who work outside the home to determine how far each worker travels to work each day, the average time of the commute, method of travel, etc., for themselves and for a relative who worked 40 years ago. Compile the results and compare commuting trends. Have students utilize math skills to compute mean and median times and distances of commutes from 40 years ago and today.

Additional Resources

Attachments, Supplement, Brochure and Additional Information

Last updated: April 10, 2015