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Grade K-2, 3-5

Specialists Light Up Our Lives!

Updated: May 9 2016,
Author: Marsha Masters


Today's lesson is about workers who have "special" jobs to do in our community. You will learn about specialists and interdependence thanks to a young boy named Peppe.

Task List

What does the word special mean to you? Today you will listen to a story about Peppe and learn what was special about workers in his community long ago. You will also think of specialists in our community and what it means to be interdependent to satisfy our wants. 


1.       Look at the cover for the book, Peppe the Lamplighter. What do you think the book will be about as you look at the cover?  What does that medal on the front of the book mean? Pay close attention to the illustrations and how they help explain the mood of the story.

2.       Listen to the first page of the story.  What did you learn about Peppe and his family? 

3.       In economics, we learn that people who work to earn an income, money for their work, are called human resources. Sometimes that means a human resource makes a good which is something that can be held, touched, used. A human resource that produces a good might be a baker who makes bread or a hat maker who makes hats. Other human resources provide services they help others by doing actions. A doctor helps people feel better if they are sick. A hair stylist might produce an action such as cutting or styling other’s hair.

4.      Looking at the illustrations, does it look like a happy time for Peppe and his family? The story says they lived in a tenement. A tenement is a type of housing that was often overcrowded and in poor condition. Do you see toys, goods, and fun things in Peppe's house like you have in your house?

5.       Read pages 2-7. Peppe met several human resources that had special jobs to do. Who were they? For example, Commare Antonietta was the candy maker. She produced a good. You can touch, hold or eat the candy that she made.  We consider these human resources to be specialists because they do one job very well and depend on others in the community to satisfy their wants for other goods and services. Each time Peppe asked for a job with one of these specialists, what did the specialist say? 

6.       Read the next page. What did Domenico, the lamplighter, ask Peppe? Because this was long ago, there was no electricity. The only way that people could see at night was by the light provided by streetlights. Did a lamplighter produce a good or provide a service?  Domenico provided a service, the action of lighting the lamps, for the people who lived in the city. Was this an important job?

7.       Read the next page. Why was Peppe excited?  Did Peppe’s father think this was an important job? 

8.       Read the rest of the story. 

·         Why did Peppe think the job of the lamplighter was a stupid job? 

·         What did Assunta think about the job of a lamplighter? 

·         We don’t have specialists who light street lamps today, but there are many jobs that might be considered to be similar to the lamplighter in today’s workforce. Can you think of any? 

·         A specialist is a human resource that does a “special” job. An example might be Dr. Smith who is a dentist. He spends his day providing services to his patients.  He pulls teeth, fills cavities, and takes care of teeth. Mrs. Brown is a teacher. She spends her day providing the service of educating students. When she needs her teeth cleaned, she makes an appointment with Dr. Smith's office. Dr. Smith’s children are students at Mrs. Brown’s school. Both Dr. Smith and Mrs. Brown benefit by specializing, but they must depend on one another to help satisfy their wants.

9       All jobs are important. Make a list of specialists you depend on in our city or community. 

10.       Today we are going to learn about interdependence. This occurs when people and nations depend on one another to provide each other’s wants. Greater specialization leads to greater interdependence. Because a baker spends his time baking cupcakes, bread and pies all day, he doesn’t devote time to making his own clothes, growing his own vegetables, servicing his car, etc. He depends on other specialists to assist. Other specialists also depend on the baker for the same reason.

11.   Now you are going to form a circle. Each of you will receive a specialist card to wear. Start with the baker.  The baker will explain how he or she is a specialist and then toss the ball of yarn to another specialist he or she depends on.

12.   Repeat the process until all in the circle have had an opportunity to share how they are specialists and who they depend on in the circle. You will have a web of interdependence when you are finished, which provides a wonderful visual to see interdependence in action. 


Let's review!

What is the name for each of the human resources in the web?

What does that mean?

Today you created an interdependence web. What did you learn from that activity?

Are all jobs important?

In the story, Assunta relied on the services of a lamplighter. Why did interdependence create a problem for her?

What would happen if the police officers went on strike and didn’t work? Would the web be as strong?

Assessment Activity

You will now receive an assessment sheet which will allow you to show what you have learned today about specialists and interdependence.

Extension Activity

Ask your family to help you make a list of specialists in our community we depend on to satisfy our wants. Be prepared to share with the class.