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Activity 2

Essential Questions

Why is trade important to a nation's economy?
How does global trade influence the lives of people?


Trade occurs because an item with value is available and people, a company, or a country want to obtain it and use it. Sometimes a product is developed that requires many different parts. A computer is a good example. A computer might be assembled in the United States of parts made in other countries. There are the hard drive, internal parts, the keyboard, case, and monitor, for example.

Each of those parts may have come from a different location on Earth to be assembled. After assembly, the computer was shipped to a location where people needed or wanted computers. At each step in the process of making a computer, items were bought and sold in other words traded between individuals, companies, and countries to produce the computer. Many items that we use daily are just taken for granted, with no thought going into the complex trades and shipments of goods that were required to make the product available.

Instructional Strategies

Gathering Information for Problem Solving

Strategy 1

Organizing Information Using a Inquiry Record Sheet

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Inquiry Record Sheet

You have just found this bag. You see some small pieces inside. You have no idea how they are used. You have no idea what they are called. You want to solve the mystery. Your group may ask three questions that will help you solve the mystery of the bag. Write the questions below. Think about the questions. You only get to ask three.

Have each group report out. Write examples on the board of the questions asked. Get at least one suggestion from each group during the discussion.

End the discussion by asking: Do any of our questions involve trade between two or more places? Draw the attention of the class to the "where" question.

Note: Some examples of questions may be:


Strategy 2

Using Computers to do Research

Explain to the class that they are going to do some further investigating about where the various things are produced that eventually get into a pencil. Tell them that you have discovered a story about the pencil on the World Wide Web.

The story I, Pencil by Leonard E. Read is an informative account of the trade that occurs in making pencils. It may be found at the following website:

Graphite and pencil

Review the following vocabulary with students prior to their research:

Establish the following purpose questions for their research:

Check for Understanding

Follow up the research with these discussion questions:
  • Where did of the pieces come from that were in the plastic bags?
  • Why is trade important to the production of pencils?

Strategy 3

Map Activity: Trading Products to Make Friends

Explain to the class that they are going to use some current information to see if modern day pencils also involve trade.

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The Raw Materials Used by the Pencil Making Industry
  • Wood: Cedar Trees (California, Oregon, Tennessee, Russia (Siberia)
  • Graphite: Sri Lanka, Great Britain, Texas, China, Southern Russia (Siberia)
  • Clay: Mississippi, Louisiana
  • Wax: Mexico
  • Pumice: Italy
  • Zinc: Canada (for brass ferrule)
  • Copper: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chile (for brass ferrule)
  • Rubber: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia
  • Seed Oil: Indonesia, Great Britain (for fastice in the eraser)
  • Castor Oil: India, Italy, California
  • Lacquer: India, China, South Korea, California, Texas, Illinois (yellow paint)

Outline maps of the World and the United States may be printed from the following website:

Have the students use the outline maps and information to follow the flow of trade in making a pencil today. Write the following steps on the board for the students to follow.

Check for Understanding

Use the information from the completed maps to discuss this question:
  • How does global trade help people and companies make pencils?