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Grade K-2, 3-5

Mystery Workers

Time: 60 mins,
Updated: March 21 2019,


Students will be able to:

  • Define the three kinds of productive resources as natural resources, human resources, and capital resources and provide examples of each.

In this economics lesson, students will identify examples of resources and producers to create goods and services.



Review with students the definition of goods. Remind them a good is a tangible object that can be bought and sold, such as a car, house, computer, and cell phone. Often distinguished from services. Ask students for examples of goods that might be used in their classroom (Answers may include book, chalk, eraser, pencil, paper, desk, chair, etc.)

Open Activity 1 – Mystery Workers Matching Classroom Goods (interactive). Ask for four volunteers and ask each volunteer to drag one good to the correct description.

Open Drag and Drop Activity 2 – Mystery Workers Riddles. Direct students to look at the pictures of goods displayed on the screen in the following interactive activity. Ask for four volunteers and ask each volunteer to drag one good to the correct riddle. Review the answers.


Review the concept of services. Tell students that a service is an activity performed by people, firms or government agencies to satisfy economic wants. Ask students what service each of the following workers provides:

  • School bus driver (transportation)
  • School cafeteria workers (preparation of lunch)
  • Teacher (education)
  • School nurse (medical help)
  • School custodian (cleans the school)

Direct students to Scholastic’s Community Club website. Divide students into groups and assign each group one of the following workers:

  • mayor
  • librarian
  • firefighter
  • pediatrician
  • police officer
  • pizza maker
  • veterinarian

Print a copy of Workers in the Community worksheet for each student. Ask the students in each group to find out what service their worker provides and record the information on the worksheet.

Have groups share their findings.

Group Activity

Tell students that workers who provide goods and services are called producers. Instruct them to match each of the producers with the good or service they provide by dragging the picture of the good or service next to the name of the producer in the matching producer activity.

Print another copy of the Workers in the Community worksheet for each student. Ask them to interview one adult using the questions on this worksheet and recording their responses on it. Have students share their interviews with the class.

Make a T-chart with the headings, “Producers of Goods” and “Producers of Services.” Ask students to provide examples of workers who produce goods and those who provide services. Record answers in the chart.

Help students draw some conclusions from the interviews. One conclusion might be that most of the workers in their community provide a service.

Individual Activity

Tell students that producers use resources to make goods or provide services. There are three types of resources. These are natural, human, and capital.

Explain that natural resources are “gifts of nature” used to produce goods and services; examples include land, oceans, air, trees, mineral deposits, soil fertility, and climatic conditions.

Explain that human resources, also called labor, are intangible assets possessed by individuals, including knowledge, talent, skills, health, and values. (Also known as human capital) Ask students to identify some human resources in the school (teacher, librarian, principal, secretary, custodian, cafeteria worker).

Define capital resources as resources made and used to produce and distribute goods and services; examples include tools, machinery and buildings.Tell students that a hammer is a capital resource. Ask them to provide other examples of capital resources they use in the classroom each day (pencils, scissors, table, chair).

Tell students to look at the Labeling Construction Site Activity. Ask them to click on a natural resource in the picture. Then, they should click on a capital resource. Finally, ask them to click on a human resource.

Direct students to the Video – How Crayons Are Made – How It’s Made. Assign the students to work in pairs, locating examples of natural, human, and capital resources in the video. Remind them that natural resources are ‘gifts of nature’ that have not been changed by people.

Print a copy of Resource Hunt for each student to record their answers. Review student answers.

  • Natural: paraffin wax
  • Human: workers who run the machines
  • Capital: any of the machines used such as labeling, molding, and mixing machines



Play a Kahoot! game that reviews the key points of the lesson with your class.

Then, print a copy of the Mystery Workers: Activity 4 — Farm Resources worksheet for each student. Direct students to study the picture to find information needed to complete the activity. (Answers for Farm Resources: natural resource: farm land, pumpkins; human: farm workers; capital: tractor)


Activity 1

Read the story Roxaboxen written by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney published by HarperCollins, April 22, 1991 (ISBN-13: 9780060526337). Ask students to create their own name for a community and have each one think of a good or a service he or she could provide to community members.

Activity 2


Another option for upper elementary students is Weslandia by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (published by Candlewick, August 1, 2002). Have students create their own civilization in which they use natural goods around them to provide the things they want and need.