“What can students learn from this activity?
In today's material world, students are bombarded with advertisements promoting the attributes of popular brands of products they eat, drink, wear, chew or ride in. Show them an image of Aunt Jemima or the Quaker Oats man and visions of pancakes or a steamy bowl of oatmeal will probably appear in their minds. Mention the words - Coke, Jell-O or Sunkist - and they will most likely be familiar with the products they represent. But how do these brand names or product icons really influence them? Do they represent the best quality product? Should products be purchased solely because of their names? How can we help our students to become educated consumers?

“This activity provides a historical view of some of the brand name products familiar today. By examining the history of these products, students can begin to get a sense of how some of today's successful brand names got their start. They can learn the fascinating stories behind the product names. They can observe how products changed over the course of history as a response to economic, cultural or technological influences. They can witness the adventure, creativity, imagination, courage, persistence and frustration exhibited in the lives of the brilliant and dedicated men and women responsible for the success of these products. They can investigate their own communities to locate and share similar success stories. By studying American brand name products from a historical point of view, students will gain a better understanding of the economic culture that they live in today.”

Information above is from Library of Congress site “The Branding of America”www.loc.gov

Learning Extensions:
  • Conduct an in-depth product study.
  • Study how product advertisements have changed over time.
  • Explore product development in terms of historic and economic eras.
  • Explore the economics of YOUR local community.
  • Discuss the impact of branding on consumer awareness today.
  • Discuss the ethical issues regarding the making and selling of "knock-off" products.

Lesson Starter & Lesson Demo: The Biography of Levi's Jeans
  • Materials - old pair of blue jeans (use something you or a sibling/relative/neighbor child has outgrown - do NOT buy something new!) & fabric paints, sequins,glitter, etc. to decorate your jeans (see examples below)
  • Written Assignment - Include these categories of information - Family History, School History, Hobbies, & Future.
  • Blue Jeans Autobiography - Each of the categories should be on a separate location on the jeans - begin with the right leg of the jeans and put your Family History there, then the left front will have your School History, and follow around on the back in the order listed for the paper. Refer to examples below and your class notes. (see examples below)

Text Set:
  • Johnson, T. (2011). Levi Strauss gets a bright idea. Boston MA: Harcourt Children's Books.
  • Olson, N. (2007). Levi Strauss and blue jeans (Inventions and discovery series). North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
  • Downey, L. (2007). Levi Strauss & Co. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing

Informational Text:

Video History:

Blue Jean Autobiography Examples: