Fair Trade Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Everyone wants to get a fair price when they sell something! But in poor parts of the world, this doesn't always happen. In this lesson, find out about fair trade and the impact it has around the globe.

Definition of Fair Trade

Imagine that you and a friend made chocolate chip cookies to sell at a bake sale. At the sale, your friend makes more money than you, even though your cookies were just as good. How unfair!

Sadly, many people in poor countries are not always paid a fair price for their work. Fair trade is when people who produce things get a fair price for their goods. This allows people living in developing countries to live a better life. Developing countries, also known as third world countries, are countries with little money and low resources.

Next time you go to the grocery store, see if you can find a product with a fair trade certified label or sticker. You might discover fair trade items such as coffee, tea, bananas, sugar, nuts, oils, butter, or honey, and even clothing and soccer balls that are imported, or brought in from other countries. Let's find out more about fair trade!

How It Works

Coffee farmer in Brazil
coffee farmer

How does fair trade work? Think about selling chocolate chip cookies. It takes a lot of time and you are only able to bake a small amount each day. How can you compete with stores like Wal-Mart or Safeway, which have boxes upon boxes of cookies for sale? You can't.

This is similar to small farms in developing countries. It is very difficult for them to compete in a world market with so much competition. However, fair trade gives small farmers and workers a set price for their products, plus a little extra money. No matter how the market is doing, the workers get paid. And the extra money helps the entire community.

Can you imagine having to go to work every day like your parents? In Pakistan, where 7 out of 10 soccer balls are made, it is common for children to work. Fair trade makes sure that products are made without child labor. In fact, three major goals of fair trade are to offer fair prices, keep working conditions safe and provide resources for the community. These resources include health care, schools, bicycles for transportation and new wells for fresh water.

How It Started

An organization called Ten Thousand Villages started buying needlework from Puerto Rico in 1946. This was the beginning of the fair trade movement, which spread worldwide. Most fair trade products, which consisted of handcrafted items and food, were sold in special shops.

World trade shop in London
world trade shop

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