School Improvement in Maryland
Carts, Candles and Cabbages - Social Studies - Grade 1, Performance-Based Instructional Task
Carts, Candles and Cabbages
Students classify needs and wants, dramatize the relationship between producers and consumers, compare families needs and wants of long ago with those of families today, and create a contemporary version of The Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall. They will then dramatize the contemporary version of the story. Both dramatizations can then be performed for the kindergarten class or any other invited audience.

This task provides opportunities for first graders to gain experience performing activities which they are not expected to master until third grade. Significant instruction may be required, so the teacher must play an integral part in helping students complete this task. The degree of teacher involvement will also depend upon the abilities of the students.

Table of Contents
.Outcome Activity Match
.Teacher Directions
.Materials Required
.Estimated Time
.Student Booklet (215k Acrobat)
.Assessment Information
Maryland Learner Outcomes
.Skills & Processes


 Outcome/ Indicator Activity Match

Activities             Outcomes & Indicators
Activity 1A       Economics
Describe the relationship between economic wants and needs.
Activity 1B Skills & Processes
Obtain and use print and non-print sources of information.
Activity 1C Geography
Locate features of the school and community by interpreting and
constructing maps using simple grid systems, cardinal directions, relative distances and sizes, and symbols explained in a legend (key).
Activities 2A, B & C Economics
Identify economic resources located within a community.
Skills & Processess
Obtain and use print and non-print sources of information.
Interact with others in groups to achieve common goals.
Activities 3A, B & C Economics
Describe the relationship between economic wants and needs.
Activities 4A & B Economics
Describe the relationship between economic wants and needs.
Activities 5A, B & C Economics
Make decisions about available goods and services and understand the consequences of those decisions.

 Teacher Directions Activity 1

Prepare boxes containing the story props for Activities 3 and 5 (see Materials Required). Show the props to the students and tell them that they will be using the props to act out the story they will hear and the one they will help to write. They will also help decide which class to invite to see their plays.

Step A.
The purpose of this step is to motivate students to read The Ox-Cart Man and review the concepts of wants and needs . Present each of the collected items (apple, potato, cabbage, etc.) to the class. Have students tell whether each item satisfies a need or a want, and what need or want each item may satisfy. Provide further review of the concepts of wants and needs, and goods and services using other resources and materials as appropriate.

Step B.
Tell students to listen for information about needs, wants, goods and services as you read the story of The Ox-Cart Man. After completing the reading, lead the students in a discussion of the story. Focus student thinking on the economics content of the story through questions such as the following:

  • When did the Ox-Cart Man live? What information from the story tells you this answer? (long ago; modes of transportation, styles of clothes, type of work, scenery/architecture, etc.)

  • What goods did the Ox-Cart Man provide for the community of Portsmouth? (food, shingles, brooms, candles, etc.)

  • What services did the Ox-Cart Man provide to the community of Portsmouth? (delivering goods to the market)

  • How did the Ox-Cart Man get to the market? (He walked and the ox cart carried the goods.)

  • Why did the Ox-Cart Man travel to Portsmouth? (to sell his goods and make money, to buy goods for his family, to satisfy their needs and wants)

  • Why didn't he just go shopping at the store? (he needed to make money, he lived a long distance from the market)

Step C.
Have students locate Maryland and Portsmouth, New Hampshire on the classroom map. Discuss:

  • What direction is Portsmouth, NH from Maryland? (north)

  • Do you think people in Maryland have wants and needs similar to those of people living in Portsmouth, NH? Why or why not?

Activity 2
For each group of four to six students, prepare a set of pictures (see Materials Required), and a copy of the following “Farm Chart” on a large piece of chart paper. If time has passed since completing Activity 1, review the story with the class. 
Farm Chart
Things grown
on the farm

Tools used
on the farm
Goods made
on the farm

People working
on the farm
Printable version (6k Acrobat)

Step A.
Show the class a set of the pictures and ask them to discuss what they see.

Step B.
Divide the class into groups of four to six students. Distribute a set of pictures, a "Farm Chart" and tape to each group. Tell the children to tape the pictures onto the "Farm Chart" under the proper heading.

Step C.
Have each group explain to the class why they placed the pictures in each boxed section of the chart.

Activity 3

In this activity, students dramatize the Portsmouth market from the story they have read. Before beginning, collect the necessary props and costume pieces (see Materials Required).

Step A.
Focus the students on the concepts of producer and consumer. Define the terms for the children.

  • producer (makes goods or provides service)
  • consumer (uses what the producers have made)

Step B.
Ask students to volunteer to act as consumers, the Ox-Cart Man, and the shopkeepers. Distribute the props and costume pieces, and help the children place the parts of the market (street, stalls, etc.) in the classroom. Tell the students who volunteered to think about who they are and what they want as they improvise the activities of their characters at the Portsmouth market, using what they remember about the story.

Step C.
Discuss with the students reasons why the Ox-Cart Man and his family decided to make and sell these items. (a way to make money; a way to meet needs and wants)

Activity 4

Before beginning this activity, reproduce the following chart on a large piece of chart paper or on the board.

Needs Ox-Cart Man
Long Ago









Click here for a version of the chart for printing

Step A.
Ask the class to compare the basic needs of the Ox-Cart Man with the basic needs of people today. Have students tell how each need was met by the Ox-Cart Man and how it is met by people today. Record student responses on the chart.

Step B.
Divide the students into pairs or small groups and distribute Student Booklets. Using pencils and crayons, have students work in their groups to complete the booklet.

Activity 5

Step A.
The class will work together to write a new story about the Ox-Cart Man. Have chart paper and markers available to record the story as it is generated by the children.

Have the students utilize small group discussion or the think-pair-share strategy to respond to each of the following questions.

If the Ox-Cart Man lived today. . .

  • What kind of job might he have? What kind of job might his wife have?

  • How might his family take care of their needs for food, clothing and shelter?

  • How might the family get to and from their job(s)?

  • What special wants might the children have (the wintergreen peppermint candies vs. a want of today)?

Record the contemporary version based on student responses to the questions.

Step B.
Reread the new story which the students have generated. Distribute copies of student response sheet, found in the Student Booklet, along with pencils and crayons. Tell each child to draw a picture of one need and one want from the new story, and name each.

When the children have completed their responses, have them share their illustrations with their discussion group or think-pair-share partners from the preceding step.

Illustrations may be posted in the room so all children can see them. At a later time, you might ask children to include them in their individual portfolios.

Step C.
Remind the students that the kindergarten class, or other invited audience, will be coming to see their dramatizations of The Ox-Cart Man and of their contemporary version of the book.

Ask the students to volunteer to act as consumers, the contemporary Ox-Cart Man and shopkeepers in the updated version of the Portsmouth market. Before beginning, collect necessary props and costume pieces (see Materials Required). Distribute these to the volunteers, then help children place the parts of the market as they did in Activity 3D.

Present the dramatizations to the invited class.

Materials Required Activity 1

  • Collect five or six of the following items: apple, potato, cabbage, turnip, shawl, blanket, candle, feather, shingle, wintergreen candy, linen, needle, black kettle, etc.
  • wall map of the United States
  • Hall, Donald, The Ox-Cart Man, New York, Scholastic, Inc., 1979.
    Order Online:   paperback or School & Library Binding.

Activity 2
Make one set of pictures for each group of four to six children. Each set should include:

  • goods produced on the farm, such as shingles, brooms, mittens, shawl, yoke, candles, etc.
  • things grown on the farm, such as an apple, cabbage, turnip, potatoes, maple sugar, etc.
  • tools used on the farm, such as a knife, spinning wheel, shears, needle, rake, etc.
  • people working on the farm, performing jobs like carving, spinning, sewing, raking, shearing, etc.
  • large “Farm Chart” on chart paper (see Teacher Directions)
  • tape

Activity 3
Props for dramatizing the market scene (simplify or expand as needed):

  • name tags for producers and consumers
  • pictures of items the Ox-Cart Man sold at the Portsmouth market -- marked with price tags
  • pictures of items the Ox-Cart Man bought at the market -- marked with price tags
  • play coins
  • bag for the Ox-Cart Man's coins
  • felt hat for the Ox-Cart Man
  • baskets for the consumers
  • bonnets for the women, hats for the men
  • aprons for the shopkeepers

Activity 4

  • large copy of chart on chart paper or on the board (see Teacher Directions)
  • markers
  • Student Booklets
  • crayons/pencils

Activity 5

  • large chart paper
  • copies of student response sheet
  • crayons/pencils
  • props for dramatizing the contemporary market scene (adapt list from Activity 3)

Estimated Time

  Activity 1:   45-50 minutes
Activity 2: 40-50 minutes
Activity 3: 30-40 minutes
Activity 4  
  Step A: 45 minutes
Step B: 45 minutes
Activity 5: 30-35 minutes
Student Booklet 
Assessment Information Rationale

You may want to focus on particular activities to evaluate student progress on a certain indicator and outcome. For the purposes of this exemplar task, a sample scoring tool is provided for Activity 4B.

Please note: This is an instructional task. Children are not expected to have mastered what they are learning and practicing here until third grade. This scoring tool is intended to measure student performance as it develops to meet third grade proficiency expectations. It is important to consider what would constitute an appropriate first grade response.

Activity 4B. Students work in groups to fill in Student Booklet sheets on which students complete sentences comparing their own wants and needs with those of the Ox-Cart Man.

This activity addresses Social Studies Outcome #4, Economics. Responses are gauged on a 0 - 3 scoring tool.

Scoring Tool: This response provides evidence of the student's ability to describe how different people in different times and places satisfied economic wants and needs.

3:   Completing correctly all three sections of the booklet.

2:   Completing correctly two sections of the booklet, or partially and correctly completing all three sections.

1:   Completing correctly one section of the booklet, or partially and correctly completing two sections.

0:   All other responses.

Sample Answer:
The Ox-Cart Man ate cabbages from the garden.
    Today I eat macaroni and cheese from a box.
The Ox-Cart Man made clothes from cloth they made.
    Today I get clothes from the store.
The Ox-Cart Man lived in a farmhouse.
    Today I live in a(n) apartment.