Lesson Plan

Moving and Learning Jobs of Bent's Old Fort

Children working with adobe
Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
30 Minutes
State Standards:
Social Studies: Analyze key historical periods and patterns of change over time within and across nations and cultures
Additional Standards:
This activity involves movement, which could be included into physical education standards.
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts.


This activity provides the students a chance to move while learning about and/or reviewing different jobs at Bent's Old Fort. The students will associate movements with the different jobs. This activity provides a break for students to stretch and recharge which will help them to focus on your next activity.


Playing a movement game is a way to give students a "break" from sitting at a desk and could help refocus the students for the next activities. 

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site houses a community of workers. These workers include laborers, domestics (cooks), trappers, craftsmen, and many more. All of these workers have specific roles which help the community of Bent's Fort thrive. Because of these workers, Bent's Fort was a successful Fur Trading Post from 1833-1849. 

The blacksmith at Bent's Old Fort mainly works on the wagons. He can make oxen shoes (only the two lead oxen are shoed) and he fixes the metal parts on the wagon wheels, such as the tire. 

The carpenter works mainly on fixing the wagons. He works hand in hand with the blacksmith on the wagon wheels. The carpenter is responsible for the wooden parts of the wheels.

Mexican laborers have many jobs, but were hired for their skill using adobe. They also work wherever they are needed. Have students brainstorm other roles the laborers may have. 

There is a bell at Bent's Fort. If the fort was under attack, the bell could be wrung. Since the fort was never under attack, there was a different use, the bell could be wrung to alert the Indians that the fort is open for trade. The Indians would bring Buffalo Robes to trade. 

Children had many roles. They would help their parents by doing chores (laundry, cleaning, bringing water) or help their parents with their parents jobs (laborer) or they might be a craftman apprentice. As an apprentice, the child would work strictly for their craftman they are apprenticed to (blacksmith, carpenter.) Have students brainstorm different chores the children might have. 

Feel free to contact Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site for any questions by going to Nps.gov/beol


This game could happen throughout the Bent's Old Fort learning experience. If it is your introduction to history at the site, go through each role, discussing what each job is and how it compares to modern jobs. 

This game could take place in one session, or used throughout one week for a few minutes at a time. 

The See, Wonder and Think about Bent's Old Fort activity, located at nps.gov/teachers, may help prepare students for this activity. 


Lesson Hook/Preview

Ask students "what type of job do you want when you grow up? "What type of job would you want in the 19th century?


Teacher calls out the worker type. The students perform the movement and sound. Teach students movements one at a time. Practice the movements before adding additional movements. If you play this game throughout the week, every day you could add movements. You could also have a student take the facilitator role and call out the movements.

  • Laborer- Students say “Hola!” as they pretend to dig in the ground with a shovel, or make adobe. (This is representing the Mexican laborers work.)
  • Doctor- Students pair up. One student is the “Doctor” and one is the “patient.” Doctor pretends to open a container of medicine while patient pretends to cough. Could also pretend there are leeches.
  • Cook- Three students form a group. They pretend to cook. They could pretend to cut food. They say “Delicious food!”
  • Children- students run in place and say “I’m going to win”
  • Indian Agent - Students pair up, face each other, and do Indian Sign Language. “Buffalo Robe Trade” (Buffalo-Fingers looking like horns on the head, Robe-arms across body, Trade-arms straight in front, bent at elbow, pointer fingers touching.) (They could also say the words too.)
  • Clerk- Pretend to sit and write.
  • Open for trade- Students pretend to ring a bell while bending and straightening their legs. (The bell in the guard tower alerted the Native Americans that they can trade at or in the fort.)
  • Blacksmith- Students pretend to hammer while saying “Ding, ding, ding!”
  • Carpenter- Say “working on a wheel”
  • Trapper- Go close to the ground and pretend to set a trap. “I’ll catch one!”
  • Trader- “Three buffalo robes for one blanket!” Pretend to hold a blanket. 

Ask students which jobs would work together? How would they work together? (Blacksmith and Carpenter work together on fixing wagon wheels. Trapper and Trader exchange furs and trade items. Students could be creative with this question, but you may have to start with an example.) Have students make up a sound and movement for these pairings. 


Adobe- A type of clay used in building material. Adobe laborers create bricks by mixing soil, hay and water. They put the mixture into a wooden brick mold. The brick dries and hardens. The brick can then be used to build. Mud is used as cement between bricks.

Enrichment Activities

The learner could be encouraged to read more about Bent's Old Fort and/or the specific jobs at the fort. The student could develop a report or presentation about the job they are most interested in. 

Related Lessons or Education Materials

Write about a 19th Century Job

Job - Card Sorting

Contact Information

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Last updated: December 24, 2016