1. Have a whole-class discussion about global connections.
Ask: Do you feel connected to the rest of the globe on a regular basis? How, or in what ways? Students may include examples of connecting to others through technology. They may also describe travel to other countries, contact with relatives abroad, or being first- or second-generation immigrants. Some students may say they are not connected.

2. Have students identify global connections through products.
Explain to students that they are globally connected every day through clothing and other products. Have them look at their own shoes and at the neck tags of a classmate's piece of clothing and determine where the clothing was made. They can also identify items from around the classroom. Have students clearly label items according to each item's country of origin. Write a running list of country names on the board as students find them.

3. Have students map where the products were made.
When you have a list with variety, ask students to locate these countries on a wall map of the world using push pins or removable adhesive dots.

4. Introduce the vocabulary words import and export.
Explain to students that to import means "to bring from a foreign or external source; especially to bring—as merchandise—into a place or country from another country." To export means "to carry or send—as a commodity—to some other place, such as another country." Ask students to brainstorm common examples of each.

5. Have students analyze patterns of import and export on the map.
Discuss the following questions:

  • Are there any interesting patterns on the map? Where are most of the points? Which areas do not have any points?
  • Who is exporting and who is importing goods?
  • What countries are exporting what goods?
  • Why do you think different countries specialize in the production of specific items?
  • Do countries only import items they need?
  • Why might countries import items they do not need?

Extending the Learning

Go to the Illicit: The Dark Trade website to find out how globalization and interdependence have affected illegal trade. If possible, have students watch the National Geographic film Illicit: The Dark Trade. An excerpt of the film is provided in this activity. Go to the PBS website to find out where you can get the full DVD.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • identify the countries of origin of clothing and other products
  • map the countries of origin
  • describe patterns of import and export on the map

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 11:  The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface

Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics

  • Standard 2: Marginal Cost/Benefit:  Effective decision making requires comparing the additional costs of alternatives with the additional benefits. Most choices involve doing a little more or a little less of something: few choices are "all or nothing" decisions.

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Push pins
  • Removable adhesive dots
  • Wall map of the world

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Optional
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
  • Plug-Ins: Flash

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction

Background Information

Resources are unevenly distributed across the surface of the Earth, and no one country has all the resources it needs. Therefore, each country must trade with others, resulting in a world of global economic interdependence—an exchange between producers who produce or manufacture goods, and consumers who purchase or use the goods.

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities

  • None



to transport goods to another place for trade.


to bring in a good or service from another area for trade.


people relying on each other for goods, services, and ideas.