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Vermilion Parish Schools
Activity 2: Barter and Money Economies (GLEs: 13, 37)  

Materials List:  map of Roman Empire trade routes

Teachers will present information on what the basic characteristics of money are (e.g., recognizable, durable, divisible, known value). Define money as any medium of exchange. Ask students what precious metals traders and buyers have used so that they could easily recognize their value (e.g., copper, silver, and gold). Discuss that money has one other important characteristic:  it can be stored (saved). Barter is a direct exchange of products between buyers and sellers. In bartering, there is no recognizable standard of value. It does not allow for savings.

The teacher will assign each student a role as a buyer or seller in a marketplace. (Commercial simulations exist.)  The studentsí jobs are to buy or sell their products to the best possible advantage. In the first round, they will barter to achieve the best outcome as a consumer and seller. In the second round, play money will be used to buy and sell in the market.

 

Teachers should ask the students to explain differences between barter and money markets (e.g., ability to save and store money for future purchases). Review the map of trade routes during the Roman Empire.  Explain that the Romans minted coins that circulated everywhere in the Roman Empire and that the Romans also honored coins minted by captive peoples. Teachers should present information and discuss the relationship between money and promotion of trade in the empire. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, there was no central authority to guarantee the value of money. Ask students to explain why bartering became important again after the fall of Rome. Ask them to form hypotheses to explain what happened to Roman trade routes, markets, and cities along the trade routes.

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