Trade and Economics of China and The Middle East’s Porcelain and Lapis Lazuli (Cobalt Blue Pigment)

Trade and Economics of China and The Middle East’s Porcelain and Lapis Lazuli (Cobalt Blue Pigment)

Jennifer Lee Vanada

Lesson plan created for the Center for Global Studies

Integrated Arts Kindergarten at Penn State Bennett Family Center

Target Level: Grade 3

This lesson could be done strictly as an economics lesson, or incorporated into a unit on Ancient China or Middle East.


  • State what a supply is
  • State what a demand is
  • State difference between a want and a need
  • State what goods are
  • State what services are
  • State goods and services between Ancient China and Middle East
  • State some goods and services of the local area are
  • State some local supplies and demands

PA State Standards

Subject Area: Economics

6.1.3.A: Define scarcity and identify examples of resources, wants and needs.
6.1.3.B: Identify needs and wants of people.

Subject Area: Markets and Economic Systems

6.2.3.A: Identify goods and services, consumers and producers in local community.
6.2.3.G: Identify characteristics of local economy.

Subject Area: Economics and Interdependence

6.4.3.B: Identify examples of trade, imports and exports in local community.

Methods of Assessment

  • Discussions about supply and demand, wants and needs, and goods and services.
  • While playing the game, are children able to match their cards to the correct placement?
  • Children will discuss local supply and demand, wants and needs, and goods and services.

How to Carry Out the Lesson

  • Teacher will review history of trade between the Middle East and China. (cobalt blue/lapis lazuli from the Middle East and Porcelain from China).
    • Some good places to read:
      • Wikipedia – Blue
      • PBS – On China’s China
      • China had perfected the making of porcelain but its blue colors faded during firing. The Middle East had the lapis lazuli that could be ground down to a fine powder to make a brilliant blue color that did not fade during the firing process. But the Middle East had not perfected the porcelain; it was rough and not smooth like Chinese porcelain. When the Mongols invaded China they brought with them this lapis lazuli and soon trade was begun. There was a craze for this brilliant blue color in China and, in the Middle East, there was a craze for the perfect porcelain made in China. The Middle East started to send their blue to China to paint pots for them.
      • It became very expensive for the Middle East to do this, and eventually they improved their porcelain, began to make their own, and stopped purchasing the more expensive imports from China.
  • Show images of Early Middle Eastern and Chinese porcelain. Then show images of later porcelain pieces so children can see the differences.
  • Go over terms of supply and demand, goods and services, wants and needs, and how things can change over time.
  • How do these terms relate to our story?
  • Can we think of any supply and demand/ goods and services/ wants and needs in our local area?
  • Hand out cards with examples of supply and demand ( eg. the local restaurants all want trout for their spring menus, OR You are one of the only trout farms in the local area. ); Goods and services (eg.: Buying a car or fixing a flat tire); Wants and needs (eg.: Ice Cream or insulin for a diabetic). Put category/term choices on the board one at a time: Supply or Demand / Good or Service/ Want or Need. Have students read to themselves and decide what category it would fit into. Do 3 different rounds. First Round: Supply or Demand cards. Second Round: Goods or Services cards. Third Round: Wants or Needs cards.
  • Continue conversations.


  • Images of Porcelain
  • Map
  • Cards for Game

Differentiated Instruction

  • There will be a wide range of reading/comprehension abilities. Group students heterogeneously to work together on reading their playing cards to one another to have a sounding board before they read their cards to the class. Good peer assistance.


  • Can create a slide show to go along with the story for a great visual.

Lesson Analysis

  • What went well?
  • Planning reflection
  • Teaching reflection
  • Improvements