Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Cocoa Ice


Cocoa Ice tells the story of two little girls, each living in completely different parts of the world, whose daily activities directly impact the other.  The first little girl lives in Santo Domingo and helps her family grow and harvest chocolate for a living.  The second little girl lives in Maine, way up north, and helps her family (or rather watches her uncle) harvest ice from the river every winter.

The second little girl’s Uncle rides in a schooner to the island where it is always summer and brings back chocolate in exchange for the ice they harvested in the very cold winter.

It is clear that each of the little girls are fascinated by the process of creating chocolate or harvesting ice and even more fascinated by the faraway land that receives the chocolate or ice they work so hard for.

Curriculum Connections
Cocoa Ice introduces several concepts from the SOLs: 2.7 – describe natural, human, and capital resources, 2.8 – distinguish between use of barter and use of money, 2.9 – explain scarcity (limited resources), and 3.8 – recognize that people and regions cannot produce everything they want and therefore must trade for the rest.

Additional Resources

  • The International Monetary Fund has an interactive trading game available on its website. It allows the player to buy and sell various goods and choose their buying or selling price based on current economic conditions.
  • This lesson plan, called Tortilla Factory, focuses on the various types of resources (human, capital, natural, intermediate).
  • Here is a link to a pdf of a comic strip story called Wishes and Rainbows, by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  It is designed to help illustrate the issues of scarcity.

Book: Cocoa Ice
Author: Diana Appelbaum
Illustrator: Holly Meade
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: September 2007
Pages: 56 Pages
Grade Range: 3-5

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