Find what you need fast!  Type in your keyword and search.

Globalization and the Materials Economy

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 
School or Organization: 

TOPIC: Globalization and Materials Economy


  • What are the parts of the Materials Economy?
  • What forces affect consumers’ decision to purchase and discard goods?

§113.18. Social Studies, Grade 6
(a) (5)  Throughout social studies in Kindergarten-Grade 12, students build a foundation in history; geography; economics; government; citizenship; culture; science, technology, and society; and social studies skills. The content, as appropriate for the grade level or course, enables students to understand the importance of patriotism, function in a free enterprise society, and appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation as referenced in the Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.002(h).
(B) Knowledge and Skills: 

  • 8A: Describe the ways in which the factors of production (natural resources, labor, capital, and entrepreneurs) influence the economies of various contemporary societies
  • 8C: explain the impact of relative scarcity of resources on international trade and economic interdependence among and within societies.
  • 10C: Identify and describe the effects of government regulation and taxation on economic development and business planning.
  • 22C: Express ideas orally based on research and experiences
  • (8)  Economics. The student understands the factors of production in a society's economy. The student is expected to:
  • (A)  describe ways in which the factors of production (natural resources, labor, capital, and entrepreneurs) influence the economies of various contemporary societies;
  • (C)  explain the impact of relative scarcity of resources on international trade and economic interdependence among and within societies.
  • (9)  Economics. The student understands the various ways in which people organize economic systems. The student is expected to:
  • (A)  compare ways in which various societies organize the production and distribution of goods and services;
  • (C)  understand the importance of morality and ethics in maintaining a functional free enterprise system; and
  • (A)  define and give examples of agricultural, wholesale, retail, manufacturing (goods), and service industries

MATERIALS NEEDED: Markers, 4 alphabet relay posters, Post-It Notes, 2 Role on the Wall posters



Share “The Story of Stuff” Video.

We just watched this video about the materials economy and the effects of producing and consuming on the world. Let's make sure we are on the same page about some of the terms from that video.
Quickly define:

  • Consumer
  • Producer
  • Goods
  • Globalization

Discuss students' perceptions of their own consumer habits and practices. Ask them to identify producers in their community, and discuss some of the positive and negative impacts that the materials economy has on the community and the world.


Role on the Wall 15 MIN
Facilitator will pass out one Post-It note to each student in the class and ask them to hold onto it.
We’re going to think a little bit together about the role of individual people in that process. The video mentioned some of the ways people are affected by this economy and some of the things they can do to make it better for themselves and for the planet. We’re going to take that a step further and think about some of the reasons people make the choices about consuming the goods that they do.
Everyone should have a Post-It at your desk. Take about a minute to think about an EXTERNAL PRESSURE that might influence a consumer’s decision to purchase or not purchase something. Can someone remind me what a consumer is? [Talk about a definition of “external pressures” if necessary.] Once you have an idea of something that influences people’s decisions to buy something, write it down on your Post-It note. It can just be a word or a couple of words. Then, come stick your Post-It note outside the figure’s head. [Allow time for students to do this.]
Great. Thank you for your thoughts and your participation. I’m going to read through a few of these ideas so we can all hear them. [Read Post-Its aloud.]
Excellent ideas. Now, we are going to talk together about some INTERNAL things that influence consumer’s choices. So this person, representing a consumer, is probably thinking about things as they are going to buy a product or a number of products. What might some of these things be?
[Take student suggestions, write them inside the ROTW figure in one color.]
Excellent. Now, the video showed us some pretty scary downfalls of us buying a lot of stuff. What were some of those negative effects? [Take student suggestions here.] Okay. So thinking about those things, what are some ways you as a consumer could think about purchasing products differently to help with those effects? For example, I might try to buy less food that is packaged in plastic. [Write these ideas on the ROTW figure in a different color, preferably green.]
Transition: Excellent, everyone. Thank you for your thoughts. I’d love to encourage you to think about some of those great ideas the next time you are choosing something to buy.
Alphabet Relay 15 MIN
Divide students into 4 teams.
We’re going to end our lesson today with a game called Alphabet Relay. This will help us review what we talked about in the video and also think about ways the economy and the way that goods travel around the world affect our lives.
Each team will have a piece of paper with the alphabet written on it, like this [show example]. Each team will get into a line and the first person will have a marker. When I say “GO,” the first person will go to the poster, write something that answers the prompt that starts with an A then go back and hand the marker to the second person and go to the back of the line. The next person will write something that starts with a B, and so on. So for example, if the prompt was “animals,” I might write “Aardvark,” then hand the marker off to the next person who could write “bear.” You have to go in alphabetical order! If you’re having trouble, your team can help you with suggestions. Be creative, and pull information from your own experience as well as the video and the reading you’ve been doing. Your prompt is “the material economy.” Your goal is to get through all of the letters as quickly as possible.
Divide students into teams and get in four lines next to the posters. Once everyone is in a team, get the game started.
Possible Side-Coaching:

  • You can help your teammates if they get stuck!
  • Make sure you are going to the end of the line when you’re finished.
  • We want to keep this really positive, so think of ways you can be supportive to your team.
  • Try to keep your voices quiet so the other teams don’t hear your ideas!

Either do a gallery walk so the groups can see the other groups' work or briefly process and synthesize answers from all four groups. Questions to ask students:

  • What do you notice that our posters have in common?
  • What answers surprised you?
  • Which of these items do you think affect people in other countries or places in the world? How is the effect between the developed work and the developing world?

What did you have to do to be successful in that activity?
What similarities did you notice from what we read out loud? Did you hear anything that was new to you?
What are some ways these principles affect your lives?
Do you think that your relationship to purchasing things is changing as globalization has a bigger impact?
Why does it matter how we choose to buy products?