This module is for Teacher Resources

Subjects: Social Studies, Economics, Geography
Grades 4-8
Estimated Pacing: Two class periods (1.5 hours)

This module is designed to provide students in grades 4-8 with an introduction to Maryland's crab industry and the various factors that impact its future. Through a series of videos and activities, students will gain a deeper understanding of the businesses that make up the crab industry and the challenges faced by the people involved. Throughout the module, students will use a concept map to record their learning and to identify the interconnections of various factors.

This module can be completed by individual students working at their own pace or as a whole class guided activity.

Suggested pacing is two 45-minute class periods to allow time for whole class discussions and at least one extension activity.

Big Ideas

  • The Maryland crab industry is an important part of Maryland tradition, culture, and its economy.

  • There are many factors that impact Maryland's crab industry.

Essential Questions

  • What makes Chesapeake Bay blue crabs unique?

  • What types of businesses make up Maryland's crab industry?

  • What factors impact the businesses involved in the crab industry?

    • How do these factors impact the industry?

  • How do consumers support Maryland's crab industry?

  • Why is the crab industry important to Marylanders?

Module Objectives

  • Describe what makes Maryland crabs unique.

  • Identify the types of businesses that make up Maryland's crab industry.

  • Explain how various factors impact the businesses and people involved in Maryland's crab industry.

  • Draw conclusions about why Maryland's crab industry is important to Marylanders.

  • Construct a concept map that represents the relationships and connections between different components of Maryland's crab industry.

Maryland Content Standards

3.0 Content Standard: Geography – Students will appreciate their own place in the world and foster curiosity about environment and cultures; use geographic reasoning associated with physical and human factors, locations of places and regions, historic changes in political boundaries, economic activities, and cultures; use spatial and environmental perspectives; and apply geographic representation including maps, imagery, and geospatial technologies.

4.0 Content Standard: Economics – Students will evaluate decision making of individuals, businesses, governments, and societies to allocate resources; consider the cost

benefits and the interaction of buyers and sellers in a global market; and develop economic reasoning to understand the historical development and current status of economic

principles, institutions, and processes needed to be effective citizens, consumers, and workers participating in local communities, the nation, and the world.

6.0 Content Standard: Social Studies Skills and Processes – Students shall use reading, writing, and thinking processes and skills to gain knowledge and understanding of political, historical, and current events using chronological and spatial thinking, economic reasoning, and historical interpretation, by framing and evaluating questions from primary and secondary sources

Source: Maryland Social Studies Standards and Framework Grade 3-8

Teacher Notes (by section)

Blue Crabs

In this section, students will activate prior knowledge about Maryland's blue crabs. They will explore the life cycle of the blue crab, and they'll learn how to use a concept map to organize ideas and related concepts.

Tip: Use legal size paper or larger for student concept maps to allow extra space for students with large handwriting or for students who may wish to add illustrations to their maps. There are also a number on student-friendly online tools for concept mapping that you may wish to use as an alternative to paper maps.

Extension Activity(s):

Have students research and explore the physical characteristics of the blue crab and how males are distinguished from females.


In this section, students will learn about the value of buying local crabs and the work of watermen and waterwomen. They will begin populating their concept maps about Maryland's crab industry.

Tip: Remind students that the example concept maps represent one way of organizing the information and that their maps may be organized differently and include different wording. For students who may struggle with concept mapping, they may use the samples as a guide.

Extension Activity(s):

Before proceeding to the next section, have students discuss the benefits of buying local crabs. Ask them to share any personal experiences with eating Maryland crabs or crabs from other regions and note any advantages or disadvantages.

Have students discuss what it might be like to be a waterman/waterwoman, and why they think watermen/waterwomen continue to do this work?

Discuss what it means to be a good steward of the Bay and why the health of the Bay is important. Brainstorm what they can do to help the Bay. Have students create a public service announcement or poster to encourage children and adults to be good stewards of the Chesapeake Bay.

Introduce students to the role of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources and discuss why it is important for protecting the Bay.


In this section, students will learn about crab processing businesses and the challenges they face in the crab industry. They will continue to populate their concept map and elaborate on how different factors impact the industry by identifying cause and effect relationships.

Extension Activity(s):

Have students discuss the concept of supply and demand and the impact that a decline in the Maryland blue crab population may have on consumers in terms of pricing and imported crabs.

Have students reflect on all of the possible jobs associated with crabbing and processing that they have noticed so far in the videos (delivery drivers, crab basket makers, steamers, etc.) and how these job may be disrupted by challenges in crabbing and processing businesses.


In this section, students will learn about the distribution side of the crab industry and how restaurateurs help to maintain Maryland's crab tradition and heritage.

Extension Activity(s):

Have students share personal stories about Maryland's crab tradition? What is it like to eat crabs at family gatherings and how does eating crabs promote community? Discuss what it  might be like to work in one of the crab businesses they learned about?

Wrap Up

In this section, students will refine and complete their concept maps. Have students share their concept maps in pairs or with the whole group to compare ideas and identify common themes.

Extension Activity(s):

Have students reflect on the state of Maryland's crab industry and any new insights they discovered that changes the way they view the women and men who work to maintain this Maryland tradition.

Have students reflect on the challenges faced by different businesses in the industry and propose a solution(s).

Have students write a persuasive argument for why one should consider a career working in the crab industry or why one should support local crab businesses.

Completed Sample Concept Map (PDF)