Lesson Plan

Commercial and Non-Industrial Occupations
Pre-Visit Activity 2:
Non-Mining Jobs

A group of boarders seated around a table eat dinner at a boarding house.

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
30 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
4.SL.1, 4.W.2, 4.W.2.a, 4.W.2.b, 4.W.2.c, 4.W.2.d, 4.W.2.e, 4.W.4
State Standards:
4 - H3.0.2
4 - H3.0.4
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.


Students will be able to name and define at least one non-mining job.


A variety of business opportunities existed in mining communities. These businesses allowed for a wide range of employment options. There were jewelers, grocers, dressmakers and milliners, accountants, nurses, laundry owners, confectioners, and photographers. Boarding houses were sources of income as well. Some businessmen and women became entrepreneurs and created their own jobs.



Materials Needed

  • Computers with internet access
  • Optional: Books pertaining to jobs listed in background materials
  • Plain white paper
  • Writing and coloring materials

Lesson Hook/Preview

Ask students if they have ever invented anything or had thought about doing something to make money.


1. Ask students if they have ever invented anything or had thought about doing something to make money. Perhaps they are already entrepreneurs! Ask them if they remember what that means. Students can turn and talk to one another.

2. Write the definition of entrepreneur on the board and read it aloud. Tell students that they will be learning more about this today.

3. Name some different jobs from the mining era. As you name them, write them on the board. Explain to students that they will be working in small groups to research an assigned job using the internet or books.

4. Students will sketch a picture of the job they researched and write at least 1 paragraph describing the job.

5. The students will present the picture to the class and read their description.


Boarding house- a house or dwelling in which food and lodging are provided for payments

Confectioner- a person who makes or sells candy and sweets

Dressmaker- a person who makes dresses or other clothing for women

Laundry Owner- manages a laundry shop and cleans clothing or other soiled material

Librarian- a specialist who works in a library and usually manages the library. Some librarians also managed the bathhouse.

Nurse- a person trained to care for sick or injured people. They may work in a hospital or doctor's office. Early practices may have included home visits.

Photographer- a person who takes pictures or photographs, usually as a business opportunity

Additional Resources


Maggie Walz https://www.nps.gov/kewe/learn/historyculture/maggie-walz.htm

J.W. Nara http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/exhibits/Nara/photos/pamphlet.pdf



Antonia Putrich and Marie Grierson

Hoagland, Alison K. Mine Towns: Buildings for Workers in Michigan’s Copper Country. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010

Additional Photograph lessons: http://www.kodak.com/global/en/consumer/education/lessonPlans/indices/elementary.shtml



Little Book and Accordion Book:

Lindquist, Tarry. Seeing the Whole Through Social Studies, Second Edition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2002

Related Lessons or Education Materials

This pre-activity is one of three that can be completed for fourth grade about commercial and non-industrial occupations in the Keweenaw before a field trip visit to the Calumet Visitor Center.  There is also an assortment of related post-visit activities that can be completed as well.

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Last updated: January 14, 2017