Magic of Trade
Project Plan Materials
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Creative Commons License
Magic of Trade by Jodie Woodruff, 2016 Allen Distinguished Educator is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Project Overview

In this interactive, experience-based exercise students learn basic economic principles related to trade. The purpose of this activity is to highlight the assumed self-interest in trade, and potential benefits of mutual gain.

Jodie Woodruff

School: The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (The Met)

Type of School: Public - District

Location: Providence, RI

School Population: 838

Demographic: 66% minority students

% Free/reduced lunch program: 71%

Learning Outcomes

This project integrates economics, free trade, and enterprise concepts, and meets learning standards in literacy. Students will be able to understand basic economic principles, understand motivations and reasons behind trade, discuss concepts of free enterprise, and understand different economic paradigms.
Download the open-source Project Plan Materials to view a complete list of standards and learning outcomes addressed in this project.

How Jodie Did It

Grade: 9th – 12th

Timing: 45 minutes – one hour depending on discussion

Subjects: Economics, free trade, and enterprise

Materials: brown paper bags, an assortment of dollar store items (2-4 for each bag), a large sheet of paper, or chalkboard, writing utensils.

Project Steps: Jodie implements this project during one class period in two stages following a 1-2 hour preparation to gather trade materials. The two stages include: Magic of Trade Exercise, and Discussion.

How You Can Do It

Grade: 6th-12th  

Timing: 200+ minutes

Subjects: Economics, free trade, and enterprise

Materials: brown paper bags, an assortment of items, poster board or whiteboard/chalkboard, writing utensils, optional case studies with real-world examples of economic trade.

Project Steps: Rather than purchasing materials from the dollar store, you could encourage students to bring in small items from home to practice the trade exercise. You can also spend more time discussing the trade that takes place in your local economy involving goods such as oil, produce, or lumber. 
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Comments (4)
Andrea DeGette
6/7/2017 7:48:28 AM

Teacher from Hillsborough, NC
I implemented The Magic of Trade by pulling together some of the other CTE teachers to create items with their students that we could use in the trading process. Foods created "cookie in a jar" items, Drafting provided 3D printed "fidgeter hinges", Woodshop offered small cheese boards, and Virtual Enterprise provided graphics for our marketing. I decided to adjust the learning goal to include a preference for hand-made vs manufactured objects. I also used PBS LearningMedia tools to record the outcomes. It took 3 total days to prep and execute the entire lesson. First, I organized with the other teachers and their students to provide the objects, then we prepared the bags and marketing. After that, I made the Quizbuilder in PBS LearningMedia to capture the student responses to the trading and sent the link to all the students who participated. Then we were ready to start the trading which we vlogged in real time. The students submitted their quiz results and then we vlogged the results and final comments. That day we put all the footage together and then completed editing the final video project which was shared with students. They all loved the project! I tried to coordinate with our PSA/commercial curriculum but ended up having to do it at the end of the year as a special project. Next year I will build it into my media literacy curriculum in order to add more elements.

Jenny Burns
9/2/2016 12:27:02 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Trisha,

Thank you for joining the discussion!

U.S. oil imports is a great real-world example of global trade economics. What grade are your students and what type of discussion does this lesson usually start? I’m curious to know more about your students’ interests in learning about trade and if you bring up these concepts in other lessons as well.

What are your thoughts on Jodie’s approach to teaching trade concepts? Can you see this project working well in your class?

- Jenny

Trisha Schlachter
9/1/2016 9:05:53 AM

Teacher from Defiance, OH
When I teach the energy unit and we discuss how the US imports a great deal of oil to meet the demanding needs, why would another country want to trade oil with us? What would they have to gain? Who is getting the better deal?

Jenny Burns
6/30/2016 12:41:28 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
How can teachers adapt this project to fit their own classrooms? Does anyone have suggestions or recommendations?

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