Unit Overview


This group of lessons will help students understand the financial concepts related to international trade and the ways in which they impact upon nations. It explores the relationship between natural resources, geography and trade; a key concept addressed in the social studies curriculum across the junior grades.


In this series of lessons, students will be divided into independent nations with differing geographical landscapes. Through role play, they will work together to help one nation’s citizens cope after an experience with drought, and will later play out scenarios in which a powerful nation seeks to exploit the resources of another. The impact of foreign contact on an occupied nation will also be explored through various dramatic conventions.

Unit Guiding Questions

What do people need to survive?
What can people do when they don’t have the resources to meet their needs?
How does the physical environment shape the way that people live?
What happens when resources are unequally distributed across nations?
What are the consequences of relying on others for one’s survival needs?
What are the benefits and drawbacks from engaging in regular trade with other nations?

De quoi les gens ont-ils besoin pour survivre?
Que peuvent faire les gens quand ils n'ont pas les ressources pour répondre à leurs besoins?
Comment l'environnement physique définie-t-il la façon dont les gens vivent?
Que se passe-t-il lorsque les ressources sont inégalement réparties entre les nations?
Quelles sont les conséquences de compter sur les autres pour ses besoins de survie?
Quels sont les avantages et les inconvénients d'un commerce régulier avec d'autres pays?

Assessment and Evaluation

Assessment for Learning

Lesson 1: Whole Class Discussion, T-Chart, Side Coaching
Lesson 2: Journal Writing, Writing in Role
Lesson 3: Whole Class Discussion, Anchor Chart

Assessment as Learning

Self Assessment Checklist, Written Responses to Guiding Questions, Journal Reflections, Value Line Activity 

Assessment of Learning

Prepared Role Play, Writing in Role


Lesson 1 - Resource Shortage Forces Assembly of Nations

In this lesson, students will form groups representing nations with different geographical features and resources. Students will work in role as citizens of these nations to develop identities through the creation of a flag that represents their values and history, and by changing the words to a familiar song into a national anthem. Once established, these nations will come together to help the Grassland nation, which is experiencing a severe drought and whose food resources have dwindled.

Lesson 2 - Resource Grab from a Foreign Powerhouse

The teacher, in role as a foreign ruler, calls a meeting in which s/he states their desire to exploit the resources from the Grassland nation (a weaker, less-populated nation), so that s/he can build their empire and expand their interests abroad. S/he meets with a group of their emissaries, played by the members of the roaming nation, to discuss how this will unfold. The members of the Grassland nation explores their options for survival in role.

Lesson 3 - Life in a Post-Contact World

It has been a few years since foreign rule has impacted the lives of all those involved. In groups, (comprised of citizens from a mix of the three original nations) students will explore the impact of contact on indigenous nations by developing scenes based on a series of scenarios that highlight a variety of perspectives on the issue.