National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Bartering Through the Seasons
3 - 5
1 hour per activity
Students will learn about the seasons, become familiar with the process of wool production, and explore how trade and barter have historically allowed people to satisfy their needs and wants.
- A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert (used in all activities)
- Have/Want Cards, 1 set for every 5 students
- Flow chart and problem/solution chart (available from Education Place website)
- Copies of My Seasons Book, 1 per student (print back-to-back, flipped on short edge)
- Wool Production Pictures (optional; print 1 for every 2 students)
- Seasons Book Cutouts (optional; 1 per student)
- Construction paper: red, yellow, orange, and green (optional)
- Glue and scissors
- T-chart (available from Education Place website)
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
barter: to exchange things (such as products or services) for other things instead of money
money: something (such as bills or coins) used as a way to pay for goods and services and to pay people for their work
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Wool is naturally fire resistant.1
- Lanolin is an oil that comes from wool. It is used to make wax, lotions, and ointments.1
- Wool fabrics are provide natural UV protection from the sun.2
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Prior to starting the activities, provide an opportunity for all the students to view the opening picture page (war-torn village) in the book A New Coat for Anna. Other post-war pictures can be shown to the students. Explain to the students that during post-war times, some people had to rebuild their communities and homes after the destruction.
- Explain that A New Coat for Anna is based on a true story, and takes place several decades ago. Read the story, and then further the discussion with the following questions:
- Do you think farmers still sheer sheep the same way today?
- Do you think that wool spinners still spin wool the same way today?
- What people were needed to make the new coat? Can you name them and tell me the service they provided?
- How long did it take for all the items to be collected before the coat could be made?
Activity 1: Bartering/Economics
- Discuss with the students what the word barter means. Bartering is the direct trading of goods, services, and resources without using money. Remind the students that they barter for items all the time—think of candy on Halloween or trading movies and music with friends. Bartering can be a way of getting what we want, but it can also be inefficient. A successful barter occurs when both parties receive what they want. However, an exact match of wants does not always happen in a bartering situation. Bartering is complicated when the value of the goods, services, or resources being traded does not match. Establishing a measurement of value is the difficult part when it comes to a successful barter.
- After reading A New Coat for Anna, create a flow chart (see Materials section) to discuss the bartering that Anna’s mother did to get Anna’s coat made. Discuss the first trade and to whom it was made, the second trade, the third trade, and the last trade. Ask the students if they feel the trades were successful and both parties received what they wanted.
- Divide students into groups of five. Give each student one Have Card and one Want Card. Ask the students to barter with the others in their group to see if they can accomplish a successful trade.
- Create a problem/solution chart (see Materials section) with the class to describe some of the problems they experienced in the bartering activity and possible solutions (e.g., nobody wanted what I had to trade; the person who had what I wanted did not want what I had to offer).
- Remind the students that as economic systems developed throughout history, the need for a more efficient way to exchange goods, services, and resources grew. Ask the students what system began to replace the barter system. Discuss the concept of a medium of exchange, and ask students what medium we use today to exchange goods, services, or resources.
Activity 2: Seasons/Weather/Change Over Time
- Read A New Coat for Anna, and discuss how the changing seasons influence events in the book and affect the people, plants, and animals. For example, you may discuss what happens to the sheep, the weather, and the plants, or the experience of the seasons for Anna and her mother.
- Go over the Seasons Book Map with the students, reviewing the order of events in the story and discussing how each element may have been affected by the seasons. Students can fill out the blank Seasons Book Map as they follow along with the story or during the review.
- Pass out one copy of the My Seasons Book to each student along with the optional Seasons Book Cutouts, wool production pictures, and colored construction paper. The book includes sections for winter, spring, summer, and fall.
- Under each heading, have students draw, write, or use the included pictures to show the wool production steps needed to make Anna’s coat. The trades and seasons in the story can help you remember the steps: 1) traded a gold watch for the wool in spring; 2) traded a lamp for the spinning of the yarn and picked berries to color the yarn red in summer; 3) traded a garnet necklace for the weaving of the cloth in the fall; and 4) traded a teapot to the tailor for the sewing of the coat in early winter. On the side of each season page where the tree trunk is, students can write, draw, or use the Seasons Book Cutouts pictures and construction paper to show what is happening during each season with the weather, people, plants, and animals.
Activity 3: Wool Production/Processing
- Read the book, A New Coat for Anna, and discuss the steps that were necessary to produce Anna’s new coat.
- Use a T-chart (see Materials section) to discuss how the process of making Anna’s new coat compares to the process and time involved in producing a new coat today. On one side of the T-chart, write Long Ago, and on the other side write Today.
- With the students, go through the procedures for making a coat. First, list all of the steps that Anna and her mother went through to get her coat made.
- Next, use websites and other resources to learn about how sheep are sheared; how the wool is graded, sorted, and carded; and the spinning, weaving, and dyeing of the wool. List on the Today side of the T-chart the newer processes used to make a coat. You could also discuss with your students how some people may still use the steps shown in the book, A New Coat for Anna, to create a coat (in some places people may not have access to modern equipment and some artisans still use these techniques to preserve tradition and create unique products).
- Consider ordering the Wool Spinning Kit for a hands-on wool spinning activity.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Supply and demand principles apply to the production and purchase costs of goods produced on a farm.
- Sheep are raised for meat and wool. Wool is used to make clothing such as sweaters, coats, and socks.
- Methods of manufacturing a wool coat have changed over the years.
Watch Wool Ewe Keep Me Warm? This is a 27-minute video geared toward children to teach about sheep and wool.
Watch the Discovery Channel's segment of How it's Made: Wool.
For further lessons on economics, visit the EcEd Web.
Visit the Interactive Map Project website and view the map representing Sheep Production in the United States. Identify some of the states who raise the most sheep, then find where your state ranks for sheep production.
Watch the 26-minute America's Heartland episode, Wild and Wooly Roundup to learn more about sheep, sheering, and wool.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Hands-On With Wool (Activity)
- A New Coat for Anna (Book)
- A Year on the Farm: with Casey & Friends (Book)
- A Young Shepherd (Book)
- Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs (Book)
- Farm Animals: Sheep (Book)
- Farmer George Plants a Nation (Book)
- From Sheep to Sweater (Book)
- Growing Seasons (Book)
- I Can Read About Seasons (Book)
- Sheep on the Farm (Book)
- Sleep Tight Farm (Book)
- The Shepherd's Trail (Book)
- Unraveling Fibers (Book)
- Warm as Wool (Book)
- Weaving the Rainbow (Book)
- Where Did My Clothes Come From? (Book)
- Wild Rose's Weaving (Book)
- Wool Samples (Kit)
- Wool Spinning Kit (Kit)
- America's Heartland: Bachelor Sheep Ranch (Multimedia)
- America's Heartland: Wild & Wooly Roundup (Multimedia)
- From Fiber to Fabric... Wool's a Natural (Multimedia)
- How It's Made: Wool (Multimedia)
- Wool Ewe Keep Me Warm? Video (Multimedia)
- Sheep 101 (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Describe how supply and demand impact the price of agricultural goods (T5.3-5.a)
Agriculture and the Environment
- Recognize the natural resources used in agricultural practices to produce food, feed, clothing, landscaping plants, and fuel (e.g., soil, water, air, plants, animals, and minerals) (T1.3-5.e)
Education Content Standards
Economics Standard 5: Trade
ObjectiveNegotiate exchanges and identify the gains to themselves and others. Compare the benefits and costs of policies that alter trade barriers between nations, such as tariffs and quotas.
NCSS 7: Production, Distribution, and Consumption
Objective 5The characteristics and functions of money and its uses.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.