Where Does Our Stuff Come From?

Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in 4-7, Trade | 0 comments

This lesson and its partner lesson, Product or Resource?, are informed by the big ideas of Community and Connectedness. Students learn what regions or countries that commodities come from by mapping the origins of products commonly found in the home. Students explore what transportation methods bring these goods from their point of origin to their destination.


Approximately 50 minutes


Students will:

  • Identify the country of origin of products that students in Prince Rupert use
  • Identify the top ten countries to which Canada and British Columbia send their exports and from where they receive their imports
  • Describe the importance of trade for Prince Rupert, British Columbia and Canada by using maps to locate major trading partner countries


  • A package of small arrow-shaped sticky notes
  • Pictures of resources and products traded through the Port of Prince Rupert (see Resources section)
  • The tables of Goods Traded Through the Port of Prince Rupert for teachers and for students (see Resources section)
  • Tables of Top 10 Countries Importing Goods to Canada / British Columbia (see Resources section)
  • Outline of world map (ideally, this should be Pacific-centric – click here for some options)


Optional: Computer with a projector, overhead projector, Smart Board


  • Ensure students understand the concepts of “natural resource” and “product”.
  • The day before you are to teach the lesson, ask students to choose 5 products at home for which they can identify the country where they were made. Have students make a note of what each item is and its country of manufacture and bring their notes to class the next day.

CRITICAL VOCABULARY (see Glossary for definitions)

Commodity, Export, Good, Import, International trade, Natural resource, Needs and wants, Product, Resources, Transport mode


  • Introduce the topic of the lesson by referencing the following quote from Martin Luther King:

    Before you finish breakfast you will have depended on half the world.

    Ask students what they think this statement means. Can they give examples of how each one of us depends on other people and countries in the world?


  • Using your own clothing as a model, demonstrate how to find out where an item of clothing was made (i.e. look at the label). Use the world map in the classroom or a map displayed on a Smart Board or a projector to locate where the items were made.
  • Have students look at the labels in their coats, sweaters, shoes and and/or shirts.
  • Ask each student for one or two examples of where their clothing was made, and locate students’ answers on the world map. Mark the locations with a small arrow-shaped sticky note.
  • As a class, look at the map and observe any trends or patterns (e.g. the country represented the most or least).


  • Have each student map the origin of the 5 products that he/she found at home on a printed map.
  • Place students in groups of four. Ask them to combine their findings and represent the totals for each country in a table and/or as a bar graph.
  • Have each group report their findings. With the students’ input, combine the groups’ findings into a chart and then represent as a graph on the board.
  • Discuss the findings:
    • Where are most of the items made?
    • Why do they think this is?
    • How did the items get from these countries to Canada?
  • Display the tables of the Top 10 Countries Importing Goods to Canada / British Columbia. Ask students to identify the similarities between the countries in the tables and the in-class chart and graph.


  • Show students the table of Goods Traded Through the Port of Prince Rupert. Lead an exploration of the data in the tables by asking students the following questions:
    • Where are the resources from and where are they going?
    • Where are the products from and where are they going when they leave the Port?
    • Which of the goods are imports and which are exports?
    • Are any of the 5 products the students found at home included in the list of products that arrive in the Port of Prince Rupert?
    • Are any of the products that students found at home made from resources that move through the Port of Prince Rupert?


  • Explain to the students that they will each create a presentation on one resource or product that is exported or imported through the Port of Prince Rupert.
  • Lead students through the development of an evaluation rubric. (You can do this as the lesson is taught, or at the end of the lesson.) The process of developing the rubric with the students could include:
    • Students brainstorm criteria;
    • Teacher and students negotiate criteria; and
    • Using the students’ language, co-develop standards or a rubric outlining the content to be included, the depth of information, and conventions.
  • The presentation should:
    • Track one product or resource that is exported or imported through the Port of Prince Rupert from its origin to its destination.
    • Include the following information about the resource/product:
      • Where it is from
      • Where it is going to
      • 3 – 5 facts about how it is produced
      • What modes of transportation are used to move it from its origin to its destination
    • Include a map showing its route from origin to destination
    • For a resource, give 1 or 2 examples of what is produced from that resource
    • For a product, give the main resource or resources that the product was made from
    • Provide relevant pictures to support the information
    • Provide 1 or 2 interesting facts about the product or resource
  • Students can choose to present their findings as:
    • A poster boards
    • A mobile
    • A flow chart


Integrate the lesson with a visit to the Port of Prince Rupert Interpretive Centre:

  • Complete Activities 1 and 2 in your classroom.
  • At the Interpretive Centre, use the interactive Import/Export Map to illustrate mapping and as a research resource. Have the students identify and note:
    • The products and natural resources that move through the Port Of Prince Rupert
    • Where the products and resources are from and where they are going
    • The modes of transportation used to move the products and resources from their country of origin to their destination
  • Back in the classroom, you can complete Activities 3 and 4, or move straight to the Assessment activity (the student presentation).



A range of Pacific-centric maps

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