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What Came From Where?

Where do your favorite things originate? Discover how world economies depend on each other to create materials, products, and packaging for everyday items. Follow the paths of imports and exports.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Do you know where your favorite gum, or shoes, or cereal, really came from? Bring the item, or a picture of it, to school. Share where the items were purchased. What country of origin is marked on the product?
    2. Pair up with another student who has a similar item. Work together to identify the components of your objects. Write down your ideas with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils. For example, a marker has a plastic barrel, end plug, tip, cap, and color. Try to identify what material is used to make each part--wood, plastic (and what is plastic made of?), paper, rubber, wool, cotton, wheat, corn, sugar?
    3. Use white and neon Crayola Model Magic to create realistic replicas of your products. Roll balls between your palms. Press pieces flat with your hands or roll them smooth with a Crayola Marker. Cut pieces into shapes or strips with Crayola Scissors. Model Magic that is fresh from the pack sticks to itself. Air-dry your sculpture for 24 hours.
    4. Research time! Investigate how your product is made and take notes. Find out the components/raw materials used to manufacture your item, how it is manufactured, and where the materials come from. Erase to correct your ideas. Discover which countries are leaders in producing the raw materials needed to make your product. You might even write letters to companies who sell your product to find out more about the materials.
    5. Use Crayola Markers to create a chart listing the raw materials, countries of origin, and site of manufacture. Locate each country on a world map.
    6. Allow time in the school day to discuss data collected during student research. Are there any patterns that emerge? What can be learned from these patterns?
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

    LA: Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

    LA: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.

    LA: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

    LA: Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

    MATH: Summarize and describe distributions.

    SS: Give examples that show how scarcity and choice govern our economic decisions.

    SS: Distinguish between needs and wants.

    SS: Identify examples of private and public goods and services.

    SS: Describe how we depend upon workers with specialized jobs and the ways in which they contribute to the productions and exchange of goods and services.

    SS: Describe the influence of incentives, values, traditions, and habits on economic decisions.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: What Are Goods and Services? (Economics in Action) by Carolyn Andrews; The Everything Kids' Money Book: Earn it, save it, and watch it grow! (Everything Kids Series) by Brette McWhorter Sember; Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made by Bill Slavin; How Things Are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers by Sharon Rose

    Invite students to work in small groups to create an imaginary travel plan to tour all the cities/countries that manufacture the materials you are seeking for a project, such as sugar from Brazil or cotton shoelaces from China. Create a brochure for the tour and assign it a name.

    Students organize data collected by the class focused on an item and the country in which it is manufactured. Using a self-created map of the world, with all countries' boundaries drawn in, students mark where exports and imports leave and enter each country. Follow-up the creation of the world map with a discussion of observations.

    Students interview parents and grandparents about how purchasing decisions have been made in their households. Prior to the interviews, students agree upon questions to be used for the interviews. After the interviews, students organize data collected into a chart or graph format-of-choice and discuss their findings. Students may also ponder what their personal purchasing strategies may be when they hold the title of "head of household."

    Challenge students to investigate the history of the United States as a manufacturing country. How did the Industrial Revolution affect the country? Jobs? Immigration?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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