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Grade 3-5

The Write Stuff

Updated: December 29 2015,
Author: Abbejean Kehler


yellow pencilHey, look at your pencil. Yes, that very one you might be holding in your hand. Ever wonder where it came from? Who made it? How they made it? Or how it got to you? To find out more about that pencil you will use several resources – the Internet, maps, reference materials and your own creativity.

Task List

In this lesson, you will name and describe the three basic questions that must be answered in a market economy: What is produced? How it is produced? For whom is it produced? You will also use a map to find where natural resources are located that are used in the production and manufacture of pencils. Finally, you will list transportation systems which can be used to deliver products to people.


1. pad and pencilWrite Stuff

Use this sheet to search the following Web sites for research. The task is to discover one thing about pencils that might stump the rest of the class.

"No. 339 Thoreau's Pencils" by John H. Lienhard
How was the famous philosopher, Henry David Thoreau related to the development of pencils? Access this link to find out.

Access this site to read about the history of the manufacturing of pencils.

Anatomy of A Pencil pencil sharpener
Access this link to see the different parts of a pencil.

How A Ceder Pencil is Made
Access this site to see how a cedar pencil is made.

This site features an almanac that shows the population of cities.

2. In groups of three students:

  • Complete "The Great Pencil Factory" activity sheet. Read the story and answer the questions.

    Use "https://pencils.com/ " website to find out what a pencil is made of.
    Be sure to visit each of these pages on the site:

    • Pencil History
    • Pencil Making
    • Which Pencil is Which?
    • Pencil Lead
    • The Great Eraser Caper
    • Renewal Resources
    • Pencil Trivia
  • Examine the pencil that was given to you and brainstorm a list of natural resources that would be necessary to produce this pencil.
  • The objective of the research is to place the pencil factory close to the resources as well as to transportation that can deliver the pencils to consumers. Identify where you would place your factory and provide three reasons to justify the location. Print out this map so you can make marks on it to decide what location is best.

paper and pencil3. Design Studio

  • Design a pencil, or create a drawing of your own pencil design – perhaps one with a different shape or size, or one with additional features.


Did you ever think it took so many people to make a pencil? That pencil in your hand sure makes it easier to write and keep track of things and do your math! Just think a minute – someone had to invent it, figure out what resources to use. Then they had to plan how to produce your pencil.