Melody Casey
Social Studies
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Upper Primary
  • GEDB
  • Global Education
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Education Standards

    GEDB Feeding the World: Commodity Transportation Scenarios (Lesson 8 of 12)

    GEDB Feeding the World: Commodity Transportation Scenarios (Lesson 8 of 12)


    In this lesson, students learn about supply and demand and the logistics of how commodities get from a source location to the consumer. Note: This lesson was created in accordance with the VIF Global Competence Indicators for Grade 4. For more information about VIF and these indicators, please visit This lesson was developed by Brenda Todd as part of their completion of the North Carolina Global Educator Digital Badge program. This lesson plan has been vetted at the local and state level for standards alignment, Global Education focus, and content accuracy.

    Lesson Plan


    In this lesson, students learn about supply and demand and the logistics of how commodities get from a source location to the consumer. Note: This lesson was created in accordance with the VIF Global Competence Indicators for Grade 4. For more information about VIF and these indicators, please visit


    Student Engagement/Motivation

    Show the UPS "We Love Logistics" video.

    Learning Targets and Criteria for Success

    Learning Targets:

    I can explain the term “logistics.”

    I can demonstrate the influence transportation has on the availability and accessibility of commodities.

    I can list and describe the people and processes in a supply chain.

    Criteria for Success:

    I will create a diagram of a supply chain for a product.

    I will use Google Maps to map and display transportation routes of commodities.


    Learning Tasks and Practice

    Guiding questions:

    1. What is logistics?
    2. What is supply and demand?
    3. What is an export?
    4. What is an import?
    5. What is a supply chain?
    6. How can you transport foods/agricultural products around the world/state?
    7. What must we consider when we transport foods?
    8. How does the route and way we move food from farm to market affect us?
    9. What happens if prices fall during this time?
    10. What happens if there are problems and the supply chain gets broken?

    Investigate and Analyze

    Ask students: How do you travel? What must you consider before you take a trip?

    Then, review the map of NC commodities and some other states from previous lessons. Review the steps necessary in getting food from farm to table. One of these steps is transportation from the farm to the market. 

    Review supply and demand. 

    Some components of this lesson are taken from “Let’s Get Moving,” (, by Diane Ireland, sponsored by Kenan Fellows Program and housed on Learn NC. Inclusion of component of “Let’s Get Moving” are covered by Creative Commons BY/NC/SA license, version 2.5.

    Show the PowerPoint on logistics from “Let’s Get Moving.”

    Use the Logistics Slide Show Notesto guide you through the slideshow.

    The students will complete four tasks during the slideshow, as outlined in the Logistics Slide Show Notes and record their work on the Slideshow Task Handout.

    Using the Trucking Logistics worksheet, do one leg of the journey as a whole group using Google Maps, as this way is new to the students. Then, let them work on the other legs of the journey. Students may need help with this activity at first especially if they have no experience using and reading Google Maps. It may be elected to only do a few legs of the journey. Each member of the group should be responsible for calculating one leg of the journey.

    Based on the Commodity Transportation Scenarios handout, students will map routes using the Google Map at For each of the scenarios, students begin their trip from the truck fleet home base (use San Diego base) and then collect the listed goods. Students may collect the goods in whichever order they think makes the most sense. After delivery, they will return to the truck fleet home base (San Diego base).

    Possible resources in order to learn more about California commodities as we get much of our food from them:

    California Grows

    WE Garden (California)

    California Seasonal Chart

    California Agriculture

    California Economy

    Agricultural Distribution Process Chart

    California Crops- Resource Sheets


    California Top Commodities

    Top 5 Commodities
     1. Dairy products
     2. Greenhouse/nursery
     3. Grapes
     4. Almonds
     5. Lettuce

    Top 5 Ag Exports
     1. Vegetables and Preparations
     2. Tree nuts
     3. Fruits and Preparations
     4. Other
     5. Dairy Products

    Synthesize and Create

    Students will need to be logged in to Google accounts, and then, navigate to Google My Mapsand choose “Create a New Map.”  The teacher will need to model how to create the spots and mark the map, if students have not used this technology before. Teachers will want to practice first if they have not used it before.

    • Directions:
      • Click on bars in red section at the top left. 
      • Pick “create a new map.”
      • Click on NC on the map to enlarge the area. 
      • Click on the small tab at the top to add a marker, name it,  and save the marker.  Other icons can be used to calculate distance. 
      • Students can add directions if time permits.

    Student groups will map a route using the Google Map. First they will create a map getting items for school. For example pick up paper at an office supply store for the copy machine, stop by a Farmer’s Market and get green beans, corn and apples for lunches this week, go to a plant nursery and pick up five shrubs for the front of the building and five flats of pansies, etc.. (Depending on age of students and experience with Google Maps, this can be done as a whole group.)  Calculate the cost of diesel gas for the delivery truck with current prices in the area.  Have the truck return to school after its deliveries.

    This map will help students locate commodities. 

    Once groups are finished with the map, they will then design a brief infomercial that can be presented to the other students explaining the plans for shipping their commodity from point A to point B.

    Information to include in the infomercial:

    • The description of what is being shipped and where it was produced.
    • The type of transportation needed (Any special things needed like refrigerated truck.)
    • Description of route
    • Any things that need to be done to keep food safe while transporting
    • Time needed

     Students will share their maps and route and compare it with other routes.

    Technological Engagement

    Students will use technology tools to gather information and/or present information for the final product.

    Collecting and Documenting Evidence of Learning

    Formative assessment

    • Monitoring of student discussions
    • Checklist to track student participation and responses to questions posed throughout the lesson

    Summative assessment

    • Checklist:
      • Can students describe the supply chain?
      • Can they tell you the difference between supply and demand?
      • Are they able to describe logistics?
      • Did they participate in group work creating the maps?

    Student Self-Reflection and Action Steps

    Ask students questions like the following: What did you enjoy most?  What did you learn?  How did your cooperative group work go?  What would you change?

    Feedback/Instructional Adjustments

    The gradual release model is suggested for use with this unit. In this model, the teacher demonstrates the work/skill, then the teachers and the students work together, then the students work together, then the students work independently. Because students have many opportunities to practice the skill/concept, the teacher has ample time to assess understanding and address student misconceptions.

    A variety of instructional activities are also used in order to meet the learning needs of diverse students.

    Remediation, if needed, would be through ongoing discussions (both teacher-student and student-student) and extending or repeating during a new lesson as some lessons build on others.

    Extended Learning Opportunities

    1. Have students investigate why California grows so many agricultural commodities.  To what countries do they export their commodities?  How are the commodities in NC different?  Why would NC need to import some foods?  What foods would we get from California?
        • Did you know…California grows more than 400 agricultural commodities?! Here’s a list of California crop and livestock commodities in which California leads the nation. Which commodities do they grow 99% of?
    1. Have students do additional research to find …..

    Which countries do we do most of our exporting and importing with and what advantages are there in trading with them?  What logistics difficulties might we face?

    1. Using Google Maps, have students create a scenario of exporting or importing a commodity from NC or California to another country.

    Teacher Reflection of Learning

    We found the Transportation worksheet difficult for students on their own to get done in allotted time. It would work better to do whole group with fifth graders. Younger students will have difficulty although it is beneficial for them to understand concept of transportation cost and planning routes.