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Consumer Revolution Imports Map


American colonists were accustomed to being able to buy goods from around the world at their local shops. Increased trade combined with a relatively high standard of living meant consumer goods were more common and more affordable than ever before. In a given household in Williamsburg, one might find spices from India, wine from France, cloth from Germany, tallow from Ireland, almonds from the Barbary coast, dishes from China, and/or sugar from Jamaica.

In this lesson, students will create a class bulletin board that demonstrates their knowledge of the interconnectedness of the trade of the American colonies with many other nations of the world. Then, by reading and summarizing Consumer Revolution Information Cards, students will learn about how increased global trade by the mid-eighteenth century affected the lives of the American colonists.


    Download Lesson Materials (PDF)

  • Colonial Store Product Cards, cut apart
  • Consumer Revolution Information Cards, cut apart
  • Speech Bubbles, cut apart
  • Large world map
  • Large map of the British colonies in North America
  • Vocabulary Handout
  • Textbook atlas
  • String
  • Pushpins


  1. Before beginning the lesson, place a large world map and a map of the colonies on the bulletin board.
  2. Discuss with students the idea of global trade: the goods we use every day come from all over the world. Explain that this is not new, and that the American colonists also enjoyed products from other countries. On the map of the colonies, mark Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, which were the port cities where merchants most commonly engaged in foreign trade.
  3. Arrange students in groups of two. Give each team a copy of the Vocabulary Handout and a different card from the Colonial Store Product Cards.
  4. Ask partners to find the country listed on their Colonial Store Product Card on the world map in their textbook atlas.
  5. Call the partners to the bulletin board one group at a time. Have them present their product card to the class, especially noting if their card mentions a third trade partner (such as goods from Holland that originally came from China). Then, each pair should pin a string to the board connecting their product's country of origin to the British colonies in North America map. They can connect their line to any of the marked port cities in the colonies. These lines demonstrate the interconnectedness of global trade.
  6. Now give partners a Consumer Revolution Information Card to read. This card gives partners additional information about the Consumer Revolution.
  7. Give one speech bubble to each partnership. Ask partners to write in their speech bubble a short summary of what they learned from reading their information card. It may be helpful to demonstrate an example for the class.
  8. Call partners to the bulletin board to present their speech bubble to the class. They can then pin their bubble on the edge of the bulletin board (to make a border) to show the information presented.

Lesson Extensions

  1. To make a current day connection, have students look at the tag in the back of their partner's shirt and add these countries to their maps or to the bulletin board map.
  2. Display the interactive activity Around the Globe for the class, or have each student access the activity individually in a computer lab, on a class set of laptops, or at home. Click on each yellow spot on the map to pull up information about the materials imported from that location.

This lesson was written by Marianne Esposito, Key West, FL, and Kim O'Neil, Liverpoole, NY.