Getting the K-12 crowd into fair trade

by G
9 years ago

I'd like to think fair trade chocolates are getting more kids engaged with the fair trade movement while they're still quite young. But by and large, many fair trade activists seem to enter the movement later on, when they get to their college campuses. Now, fair trade organizations and companies are working hard to get kids into fair trade at a younger age.

Latest case in point: Equal Exchange's comprehensive fair trade curriculum, dubbed “Win Win Solutions: An Introduction to Fair Trade and Cooperative Economics.” Equal Exchange -- a fair trade co-op that sells fair trade coffee, chocolate, and other goodies -- apparently got a lot of requests for educational materials from schools using the co-op's fair trade fundraiser materials. So Equal Exchange created an entire curriculum.

Designed for kids in grades 4 through 9, "Win Win Solutions" connects the dots between food production, global trade, and American consumerism while also covering cooperative economics. According to Equal Exchange, "Win Win Solutions" also emphasizes the "link between personal actions and community efforts to create a more just and sustainable world," showing students that they have a role to play in all of this.

The curriculum, contained in a 120-page book, consist of four units and 16 classes that include engaging classroom activities and are flexible enough to incorporate in part or whole into existing lesson plans. "Win Win Solutions" also satisfies many basic US curriculum standards -- including those for social studies, geography, math, and economics.

So -- If you teach grades 4 to 9, check out a sample lesson from "Win Win Solutions" here, and if you like what you see, get your copy of "Win Win Solutions for $25 at the Equal Exchange store.

Teach younger students? Global Exchange offers an interdisciplinary Fair Trade Cocoa curriculum -- perfect for Valentine's Day, and appropriate for kids in grades K-6. It's available free for download here in exchange for your contact info. As a bonus, you'’ll be entered in a drawing to win over $75 worth of Fair Trade chocolate and educational materials!

And for a curriculum that spans K - 12, try TransFair USA’s “Focus on Fair Trade” curriculum, which is “designed to meet multiple age-appropriate standards in a variety of subject and skill areas.” "Focus" consists of three units, each focusing on a different fair trade commodity and targeted for different age levels. The K-2 unit covers cocoa, the 3-6 unit bananas, and the 7-12 unit coffee -- I guess they don't want to encourage coffee drinking too early on! The entire curriculum's free for PDF download.

Anyone here tried out these curricula in the classroom? I've only taught college-age kids -- though I've spoken at some high school conferences -- so unfortunately, these aren't really made for me. I haven't run into any bloggers writing about their experiences with these curricula specifically, but many educators seem to be bringing fair trade issues into the classroom. Tim and Rachel at have outlined the educational trip they're taking with junior high students from Vermont; lessons will cover coffee and fair trade issues. World Changer at Ways 2 Change The World blog outlines some of the many successful ways to bring the global dimension -- including fair trade -- into schools. And Jackie at the CRS Fair Trade blog notes that one Elizabeth Cole in Austin, TX actually created her own curriculum, dubbed “Five Minutes a Week for Fair Trade”!

Come to think of it, maybe I assume that it's mainly college-age kids who get into fair trade because it's mainly college-age kids I come into contact with....

BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs for the Los Angeles Times at Emerald City, and at

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