The Productive Blues (Jeans)


This lesson printed from:

Posted August 11, 2003

Standard: 1

Grades: 3-5, 6-8

Author: Council for Economic Education Technology Staff

Posted: August 11, 2003

Updated: April 3, 2014


Upon completion of this lesson students will: identify examples of productive resources; categorize productive resources as human resources, capital resources, and natural resources; explain that an entrepreneur is a special type of human resource; identify examples of intermediate goods.


Capital Resources, Entrepreneurship, Human Resources, Intermediate Good, Natural Resources, Productive Resources


  • Identify examples of productive resources.
  • Categorize productive resources as human resources, capital resources, and natural resources.
  • Explain that an entrepreneur is a special type of human resource.
  • Identify examples of intermediate goods.


[Discuss this introduction to cover the historical significance of the lesson, you could use this as your background information]

Ask Students: How many of you own one pair of jeans? Two pairs? More than two pairs? Ask if they know when jeans were invented and why. Tell them that in this lesson they will learn about when and why blue jeans were invented, about resources needed to produce them and about the entrepreneur behind their successful history.



Explain to the students and write the following terms on the board: productive resources, human resources, capital resources, natural resources, and intermediate goods. Tell students that productive resources are the human resources, capital resources, and natural resources used to make goods and services. Human resources are the labor or human effort used to produce goods and services. Point out that a special type of human resource is an entrepreneur. Entrepreneur is the person that comes up with the idea for a good or service and takes the risks to produce it. Capital resources are goods produced and used to make other goods and services. Ask students for examples of capital resources. (tools, factories, and equipment) Natural resources are "gifts of nature"; they are present without human intervention. Ask students for examples of natural resources. (land, air, trees) For example cotton is a natural resource, and cloth is the intermediate good used to produce the final product, like jeans. Tell students that some resources are used up in the production of a final good or service. These resources are called intermediate goods. Explain that when cotton cloth is used to make shirts, the cloth is an intermediate good that is used up to make the final good, shirts. Ask for examples of intermediate goods used in the production of cars and apple juice. (parts of the car, paint, etc.:apples)

(NOTE: Use the following activity to further explain the matching of a resource with the correct factor of production)

Activity 1

Direct students to go to Levi Strauss, A Short Biography and read the information provided.

Instruct students to use information from the Strauss' biography to answer the following questions. (After the student answers, the correct answer will pop up in an answer box)

  1. Why did Strauss move to San Francisco? [Levi decided to emigrate to San Francisco to make his fortune: not by panning gold but by selling supplies to the throngs of miners who arrived daily in the big city to outfit themselves before heading off to the gold fields]
  2. Why would being close to the waterfront be beneficial for Levi? [In the 1850s this location was very close to the waterfront, handy for receiving and selling the goods that arrived by ship from his brother Jonas' store in New York]
  3. How did Levi get the idea for improving pants? [In 1872 Levi received a letter from a tailor about how he had an interesting way he made pants for his customers, placing metal rivets at the points of strain]
  4. Why might Levi Strauss be considered an innovator rather than an inventor? [Because a tailor gave him the idea for jeans, the tailor needed Levi to help with the financial aspect of developing the jeans business]
  5. What was the original name for jeans? [Waist overalls]
  6. Name some of the tasks involved in making the jeans? [Denim cutter, seamstresses, delivery, designer]
  7. Why was Levi Strauss and Company able to survive the San Francisco fire of 1906? [He had foresight, business sense, devotion to quality, continued to pay employees, extended credit to less fortunate merchants]

Activity 2

Direct students to  the "A History of Denim " and the "History of Levi's 501 Jeans " pages.

Read the "History of Denim" and "History of Levi's 501 Jeans" to find examples of different types productive resources and intermediate goods. Instruct students to complete the resources chart.

(Make a drop and drag choice activity for students reflecting this chart, order within categories is not important, put the choices in random order)

(designers) (factory) (cotton) (fabric/cloth)
(manufacturer) (linen thread) (indigo) (dye)
(advertiser) (pencil, paper, computer) (copper) (metal rivets)
(tailor) (sewing machine)    
  (electric saw)    


Use the following sites to help you identify the productive resources used to make a variety of products used by students daily. (students may do this as a homework assignment with the chart available to be printed out)

Directions: Find as many productive resources as you can at each of the product sites above (Hershey, Wrigley, and Pencils). Use the following link to print out The Evaluation Worksheet and complete the chart on the worksheet. Then, using prior knowledge, work together with individually or with a partner to fill in what the site does not provide you with. [The Answers to the worksheet are below.]





Intermediate Good


(chemist, machinist, wrapper, inspector)

(masher, mixing vats, equipment, manufacturing plant, stainless steel belt, cooling tunnel, automated wrapping machines)

(Cacao bean, raw sugar, milk)

(Chocolate liquor, aluminum foil)


(harvester, tester, chemist, lab technicians, inspector, packager, engineers, machinist)

(factory, grinder, melter, filter machines, mixers, rollers)

(rosins, sorva, jelutong, pine trees, spearmint, peppermint, farm)

(corn syrup, softeners, beet sugar, vegetable oils, refined sugar)


(cutter, forest workers, machinist)

(saw, glue, factory, extruder, vulcanizer, rotary cutter, tumbler)

(cedar logs, graphite, clay, tree resin, pumice)

(wax, stain, synthetic rubber)


You have learned about the productive resources involved in making jeans. The productive resources are human, capital, labor, and intermediate goods. By now you should be able to look at a product you use daily, and identify the productive resources used to produce that product. Ask the students to give their definition of each during a class discussion, and then direct them to reveal the definition to check the answer given during the class discussion.

  1. What is the definition of Human resources? [Human resources are the quantity and quality of human effort directed toward producing goods and services.]
  2. What is the definition of Capital goods? [Capital goods are goods that are produced and used to make other goods and services.]
  3. What is the definition of Natural resources? [Natural resources, such as land, are "gifts of nature;" they are present without human intervention.]
  4. What is the definition of Intermediate goods? [Intermediate goods are items that are part of the production process, to produce the final good.]