Global Trade
3rd Grade Global Trade Inquiry
Why Do Countries Need Each Other?
Download Entire Inquiry Here

Staging the Compelling Question
In staging the compelling question “Why do countries need each other?” teachers might begin by showing the YouTube video “Global Ship Traffic Seen from Space” ( and asking students what they think they are seeing. Students may have several hunches, but one or more will likely guess that the video represents shipping routes. Following up on that suggestion, teachers should ask what students think might be on those ships. From the hunches offered, teachers can follow up by introducing and unpacking the word “trade” and what it means to trade goods.

Supporting Question 1- What do countries export?
  • Source A:  Image bank: Highest valued export by country
Image 3:  Exports from African countries. 
Supporting Question 2- Why do countries import goods?
Workers cut roses to be shipped to the U.S. for Valentine's Day, the biggest holiday of the year for fresh-cut flower sales, at the Mongibello flower company in Chia, north of Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 30, 2012.  Photo: ©AP Photo/Fernando Vergara. Used with permission.
  • Source B: Newsela staff, article about the importing of cocoa to the United States adapted from the McClatchy-Tribune, “It’s a Hard Fight to End Child Labor Abuse on West Africa’s Cocoa Farms,” June 18, 2013 Original version by the McClatchy-Tribune, adapted by Newsela (

Supporting Question 3- What factors influence trade?  
New York State Social Studies Framework Key Idea & Practices 3.10: Each community develops an economic system that addresses three questions: what will be produced, how will it be produced, and who will get what is produced?
Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence        Comparison and Contextualization
 Civic Participation        Economics and Economic Systems