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Lesson 4: The Tropical Supermarket

Fourth Grade, Lesson 4: The Tropical Supermarket


Everything has a source. When we consume products from the shelves of supermarkets we are intricately connected to the ecosystem in which the natural resources originated and to the lives of those people who produced them.

Essential Question 

Whose lives are we eating?

Step 1 -- Connect (The Concept to Prior Knowledge)


Students will understand that farmers organize their lives around growing, harvesting and delivering products to markets for other people to enjoy.


- Locally produced food (brought in by students)
- Local map


  1. Students identify and bring in to school a food that is produced locally. It may be a vegetable, fruit, honey, grain, meat, etc.
  2. Using a map of the local area, locate where these foods are grown and how much land each takes to grow, how much time it takes to grow and what kinds of ingredients are necessary for its production. For example: How much rainfall, temperature, fertilizer or feed, soil, etc.
  3. Students study a local food producer. (This will be different for each geographical area.) Have the producer come into the classroom or have children visit the local farm/garden to discuss how much of their time and energy goes into producing the item of study.
  4. Have students write a report of the food item and all the ingredients that go into its production, including the time of the farmer.

Step 2 -- Literature/Discuss (Give Expert Information Book; Ask Questions)

Step 2


Students will understand that many lives of people in Ecuador are part of their chocolate.


- Story: Romel's Rainforest Home, a Rainforest Alliance story
- Chachi Community Profile


  1. Read Romel's Rainforest Home, a Rainforest Alliance story. Use the pictures in the story to compare and contrast the students and communities the students know to those that Romel knows.
  2. Read the Chachi Community Profile to share information with students about the Chachi and the social environmetnal benefits of growing cocoa in the shade.


  1. What food products are the same or different in Romel's community than what you find in your supermarket?
  2. How is Romel's life the same and/or different than yours?
  3. How is his home different?
  4. How is the school different?
  5. Do you do chores at home? Are they the same as Romel's?
  6. How much time do you think Romel spends helping produce cocoa beans?
  7. Did you learn anything new about cocoa beans than you knew before after reading the story?

Step 3A -- Practice (Math and Learning Centers)


Students will calculate the amount of space necessary to produce chocolate for their classroom.


- Paper, pencils


  1. Research how much space is needed to grow 10, 20, 30 or 100 cacao plants.
  2. How big will Romel's farm have to be to supply enough chocolate for your classroom?
  3. How much space will it take to supply chocolate for 20 classrooms?
  4. How many acres of Ecuadorian Rainforest are left?
  5. Romel's family grows cocoa in the shade of the rainforest. How many acres of rainforest will have to be cut down if a farmer decides not to use shade-grown cocoa techniques in order to triple the amount of chocolate being produced now?
  6. How many acres would that leave for protected rainforest?

Step 3B -- Create (Performance Tasks Related to Standard Indicators)


Students understand the difference between the impact of shade-grown cocoa beans and plantation cocoa production.


- Computer or library access


  1. Students research different types of growing practices for cocoa. What does it mean when something is grown in a way that is good for the environment? During their research, students can read about the Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable agriculture work with cocoa among other references.
  2. Students give 2 - 3 minute speeches pretending they are Romel's uncle, the president of San Salvador, to explain the benefits of growing cocoa beans using sustainable farming practices.

Step 4 -- Present (Edit Work/Students Present Projects)


Students describe the benefits of shade-grown/sustainable growing practices to manufacturing companies who buy cocoa beans from Ecuador.


  1. Students develop research papers that describe the process and benefits of sustainable practices in the rainforest of Ecuador especially regarding cocoa beans.
  2. Students create an alternative buying strategy for manufacturers that supports the use of sustainable growing techniques by showing how much of the rainforest can be saved and highlighting the value of preserving its integrity for the lives of plants, animals and Chachi communities.

The Rainforest Alliance curricula is unique in that it teaches language arts, math, science, social studies and the arts while addressing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and mathematics, and the Next Generation Science Standards. Our multidisciplinary curricula present information on forests, biodiversity, local communities and sustainable practices. Lessons provide a global perspective on the importance of protecting the world's natural resources, locally and globally, while giving students opportunities for direct action.

To help teachers seamlessly integrate our resources into their lesson plans, we have correlated our kindergarten through 8th grade and climate curriculum guides to the Common Core State Standards for both English language arts and mathematics, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards. Please feel free to use these correlations to help guide you through these lessons, as well to help you identify extensions and adaptations to advance your work.

The Rainforest Alliance can help your school district incorporate local standards and closely align our curricula with the educational mandates in your region.

In addition to the above standards, the education program seeks to advance alignment opportunities with the US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development; National Education for Sustainability (K-12) Student Learning Standards.

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