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What is fairtrade?

To introduce and explore the concept of fair trade.

by The Revd Sophie Jelley

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To introduce and explore the concept of fair trade.

Preparation and materials

You will need:

  • One shopping basket (ask if you can borrow one!)
  • One child-size shopping basket (borrow one or buy one from ELC or Woolworths etc.)
  • Variety of provisions laid out on a table (better if non-breakable)
  • Large version of the Fairtrade logo (see website) to hold up
  • Stopwatch or clock with second hand
  • Fairtrade website:


  1. Ask how many have ever heard the term 'fair trade' before. If older children, ask for hands up - what do they think it means? Maybe they heard the term when out shopping with their family or somewhere at school. Some food in the supermarket and other shops have this special sign on the side of the packet (hold up logo for children to see).
  2. Explain that you are going to play a short game to help them understand what fair trade is about, and you need four volunteers.

    Divide into two teams: one to pack the shopping into the basket; the other to be the runners. Give the two packers a basket each (one big, one small). The idea is that the runners have to run to the table to collect each item and run back to give it to the packer, who will place it in the basket, until 30 seconds are up. Any dropped items do not count. At the end of the time, count each basket.
  3. One team will clearly have more shopping than the other. But was it a fair game? Did each team have the same chance to get the shopping? One team started at a disadvantage. This team (with less shopping) started the game with a very small basket and they were never going to be able to fit all their shopping into it. The other team had a much bigger basket so they could fit more shopping into it easily.
  4. Explain that this is just what it is like for people in some countries of the world. In some countries people can buy as much as they like of the food that they like and still have the chance to buy more. In other countries people can be very poor and not have the chance to buy very much food at all.

    In some of those poorer countries, people grow food to export (sell) to other countries so they can make money to help them live. Sometimes these farmers receive very little for their goods - an unfair price. But when they are sold through a fair trade organisation, the farmers receive a fair price for their goods.
  5. Next time you go to a supermarket, see how many fairly traded products you can find - sugar, tea, coffee, bananas, chocolate etc. - with the fair trade symbol on. Sometimes they may be a bit more expensive than alternative brands, but it is important that we realise that buying them is just part of helping to make the world a fairer place for all people. Christians believe that the world and everything in it belong to God. He cares for all people and wants all to have enough to eat and to live. Buying fair trade goods can help to make the world the fairer place that God wants it to be.

Time for reflection

What have you had to eat over the last 24 hours?

Did you just reach into the fridge or buy it from the shop without any problem?

Was it served to you on the dinner table, tasty and hot?

Imagine for a moment that there had been only a very small amount of rice to eat and only a little water to drink that you had to boil before it was clean to drink. That is what life is like for some people in the world. Think about ways in which you can make a difference to their lives by supporting fair trade.



Play the children some world music rather than sing a song - explain the context so that the children can think about the different backgrounds that people come from in God's world.

Publication date: January 2005   (Vol.7 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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