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Teaching Preschoolers About Fair Labor Practices - Using Chocolate!

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Teaching Preschoolers About Fair Labor Practices - Using Chocolate!

Debra Jacobs

“That’s not fair!” How many times have you heard this rallying cry of the preschool set?

We want to steer our children’s natural sense of righteous indignation towards unjust circumstances affecting not only themselves, but others - even people they don’t know personally or who may live far away. 

Your local grocery store offers the perfect product for beginning this long road toward empathy and action: chocolate!

Buy a bag of chocolate chips (make sure the label contains a fair trade symbol).

Explain to your child that chocolate comes from beans that grow inside pods on cacao trees. People cut the cacao pods down and send them to the factory where workers grind up the beans, add sugar, and turn them into chocolate bars and chocolate chips.

You can say something like:

Sometimes adults work to cut down the cacao pods, but often children have to do that work. They have to work all day and don’t get to go to school. Usually the kids who have to cut down the cacao pods never even get to taste the chocolate!

Is it fair that some kids have to work and other kids get to play and go to school?

If you want to show your child pictures of children working on a cacao plantation, just google “chocolate production child labor” and click on “images.”

Let your child know that we can help by only buying chocolate with the fair trade symbol on the label. The symbol lets us know that children didn’t have to work to make that chocolate.

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Then make chocolate bars and have your child label them!

  • Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt them down. 
  • Then pour the liquid chocolate onto tin foil and let it cool. 
  • Once it’s cool, cut it into bars, wrap each bar in foil, and then have your child make labels.

Your child can come up with a name for the bars and can draw a picture on the label. Make sure to include the fair trade symbol!

Whenever you buy chocolate from now on, make sure to include your child in looking for the fair trade symbol.

In my preschool, we did a month-long curriculum unit on chocolate. If you’re a teacher and would like details about the curriculum, let me know and I’ll be happy to send you our activities. Here's a pic of one of our bars. The older kids made really detailed labels with clear free-trade symbols; the younger kids participated by drawing to the best of their ability.

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