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Activity 1

Essential Question

Why is trade important to a country’s economy?


Trade has occurred ever since one individual possessed something that was valued by another individual who was committed to obtain it in a nonviolent way. Trade is the mutually agreeable exchange of a good or service between individuals, companies, or countries.

In the 18th century, sailing ships carried goods for trade. 
The fundamental idea underlying trade is that the exchange provides something required by the recipient and that the current owner either has or no longer needs. The item being traded for has greater value than the item being traded. In the case of money, the amount paid is greater than the monetary value of the good or service being traded. Mutual agreement among people who are trading is important. Trade agreements between individuals and between countries have gone wrong and resulted in violence and wars, but the basic principal of trade is that both parties are benefiting from the exchange and believe they will benefit from future exchanges of goods and services.

Additional Information


Instructional Strategies

Organizing Information for Problem Solving

Strategy 1

Conducting an Inventory

Organize the students in pairs and explain that they are going to inventory the classroom for two kinds of products:

  • Products made in the United States.
  • Products made in other countries.

Explain to the students that some labels are on the bottom of products. Tell them that labels on the shirts and shoes the students are wearing are good sources of information about where clothes are made.

Have them record the information on the T-Chart below.

Printable Student View

Inventory of Products Found in Our Classroom

Products Made in the United States
Products Made in Other Countries
(Name Country)


Strategy 2

Questioning Skills Using Think/Pair/Share

  1. Write the following questions on the board:
    • Why are there goods on our T-Chart from other countries?
    • How did the things made in other countries get to our classroom? What term do we use to describe things that come into our country from other countries?
  2. Instruct pairs of students to discuss the questions. Have them use the terms imports, exports, and trade in the discussion. Review the process of think/pair/share prior to their discussions.
  3. Share information from the think/pair/share discussions with the entire class using the following questions as the focus of the discussion:
    • Why do schools need to depend on trade to get all of the things they want and/or need?
    • Read the essential question for this lesson: How does this question relate to our essential question?

Strategy 3

Using a Time Line to Follow a Sequence of Events

Make copies of the Timeline of Events for the Pencil for each student.

Early Pencil

Printable Student View

Time line of Events for the Pencil 
Pencil Event                                                                                                                           
Year    1550              1600                1650                1700                1750                1800

Take students to the computer lab or project the following web site on a screen in the classroom:

Provide students with outline maps of the world and the United States. These may be printed from the following website: ASU Maps.

Have students work in pairs to study the Pencil History and then make a time line from the information they find. Use the following questions as purpose questions:

  • Where was graphite first used to write on paper? Label and color the country on the world outline map. What was the year? Write the year on the time line.
  • Where were the first pencils mass produced? Label and color the country on the world map. What was the year? Write the year on the time line.
  • Where were the first pencils made in North America? Label and color the state on the United States map. What was the year? Write the year on the time line.

Strategy 4


Have students review their time lines. Have them keep their time lines in front of them as they read the following passage.

Have the students write a paragraph explaining how the pencil got in George Washington’s hand as he drew the map of the Ohio Territory. Have the students use the following terms in their paragraph:

  • Product
  • Import
  • Export
  • Trade

Printable Student View

Review your Pencil Time line. Where did Franklin and Washington get their pencils?

The “Pencils in the Colonies” Puzzle 
People in the United States have used pencils for a long time. Benjamin Franklin published a newspaper. The newspaper listed pencils for sale in 1729. George Washington used a three-inch pencil for his work in 1762. His job was to map the Ohio Territory. He drew the map with a pencil.

Check for Understanding

  • What do companies in the United States and other countries do to get some of the products we need to our classroom?
  • What are some ways that trade has helped us in our classroom?
Updated January 10, 2023 5:03pm