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Economic Education

Elementary School Economics

Red Envelope  E-mail Alert for Elementary Lesson Plans, Activities and Resources


  • A Chair for My Mother

    A Chair for My Mother lesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students read A Chair for My Mother, about a little girl and her family who save money to buy a chair after their furniture is destroyed in a fire. Students learn that characters in the book are human resources who save part of the income they earn. Students identify other human resources, discuss how their work allows them to earn income and name strategies that will help them reach a savings goal.

  • Abraham Lincoln and the Five-Dollar Note

    Abraham Lincoln and the Five-Dollar Note lesson (.pdf)

    Students participate in a puzzle activity to identify leadership characteristics that Abraham Lincoln possessed. They review the changes in the redesigned $5 note and consider how Lincoln's leadership characteristics contribute to the fact that he is pictured on the $5 note. Students look at a timeline of Lincoln's life and identify significant events in his road to the White House. They play a game to review content learned in the lesson.

  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

    Elementary Economics Education Resources: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday lesson (.pdf)

    In the story, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Alexander receives a dollar from his grandparents that he plans to save, but he spends it all, a little at a time. In this lesson, students count by twos to fill a container with 100 pennies. They are asked whether 100 pennies is the same amount of money as one dollar. They listen to the story and as Alexander spends his money, students come up and remove the correct number of pennies from a container. At the end of the story, students are again asked if 100 pennies is the same amount of money as one dollar. Students discuss the choices that Alexander made and give advice on how he could save his money to reach his goal of buying a walkie-talkie.

  • Beatrice's Goat

    Beatrice's Goat lesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    In this lesson, students listen to a story about Beatrice, a little girl from Uganda, who receives a goat and the impact of that goat on her family. They learn what it means to save and use estimation to decide whether or not people have enough money to reach a savings goal. They also work through a set of problems requiring that they identify how much additional money people must save to reach their goals. Students learn what opportunity cost is and identify the opportunity costs of savings decisions made by Beatrice and her family.

  • Ben Franklin: Highlighting the Printer

    Ben Franklin: Highlighting the Printer lesson (.pdf)
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    Students will learn that money is an invention. They will read and analyze an essay focusing primarily on one aspect of Ben Franklin's life—his work as a printer—and how he was an inventor and entrepreneur who also promoted the use of currency in the United States. Students will cite specific textual evidence regarding problems and solutions and will answer questions and complete a timeline. By using evidence and information gleaned from text, students will write a fictitious social media post defending the selection of Ben Franklin's portrait for the $100 note.

  • Bunny Money

    Bunny Money lesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    In this lesson, students listen to the story of Ruby and Max, two bunnies that go shopping and make many spending decisions. They are introduced to short-term and long-term savings goals to help them save for the goods they want in the future. After a goal-sorting activity, students choose and illustrate their own savings goal.

  • Cotton in My Sack

    Elementary Economics Education Resources: Cotton in My Sack lesson (.pdf)

    In this lesson, students learn about sharecropping and tenant farming by listening to the story Cotton in My Sack by Lois Lenski. In the words of the author, “They [the sharecroppers] were part of a vast economic system ... but they did not know they were part of it.” In the lesson, students investigate the life of sharecroppers and identify the economic system to which they were connected. Students read and analyze informational text and cite specific textual evidence, comparing and contrasting sharecroppers and tenant farmers. Students complete a chart to identify references to saving, spending, labor, and income as they apply to the sharecroppers. Students use the book's index to locate specific information in the book. They evaluate the spending and saving choices made by the Hutley family and identify opportunity costs. Students also use evidence and information from the story to complete a writing assignment.

  • Earth Day—Hooray!

    Earth Day—Hooray! lesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students listen to the book Earth Day—Hooray! and learn how incentives change people's behavior. The students learn how characters in the book collect cans to sell to the recycling center and use the money they receive to buy flowers to plant in the park. In a classroom discussion of the story, students track the number of cans brought to school each day. Students evaluate scenarios to determine what behavior is being encouraged or discouraged and to identify whether the incentives are rewards or penalties.

  • Glo Goes Shopping

    Glo Goes Shoppinglesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students listen to the story, Glo Goes Shopping. They learn about saving, spending, decision making and opportunity cost. They learn to use a decision-making grid to make decisions. Mathematics skills include learning about rows and columns in a grid.

  • How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

    How to Make an Apple Pie and See the Worldlesson (.pdf)

    In this lesson, students listen to a story about a little girl who wants to make an apple pie. When she finds the market closed, she travels around the world gathering natural resources to make the pie. Students will follow along with the story by connecting each natural resource to its country of origin and pointing out those places on a globe or world map. They will also identify the capital goods used to transform the natural resources into ingredients by examining the pictures from the book. Students will take part in two rounds of a trading activity, collecting the ingredients required for vanilla ice cream to go along with the apple pie. They will learn about trade and how middlemen, such as grocery stores, help make trade easier.

  • Just Saving My Money

    Elementary Economics Education Resources: Just Saving My Money lesson (.pdf)

    In this lesson, students learn about saving, savings goals, and income. They listen to the book Just Saving My Money by Mercer Mayer, a story about how Little Critter saves his money to buy a skateboard. Students use clues in the book’s text and pictures to answer questions. After listening to the story, students play a game where they each have a savings goal, earn income, and save money until that savings goal is met. Students write math sentences to determine whether they have saved enough to reach their goals. Students also set their own savings goals and tell how they could earn income to meet them.

  • Less Than Zero

    Less Than Zerolesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students learn about saving, savings goals, interest, borrowing and opportunity cost by reading Less Than Zero. Students use a number line and a line graph to track spending and borrowing in the story.

  • LIttle House in the Big Woods

    Little House in the Big Woodslesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    Little House in the Big Woods describes how the Ingalls family produced the goods they needed to survive while living in a log cabin far from their nearest neighbors. In this lesson, students will define the production function as the combination of inputs that results in outputs and will identify the inputs as human resources, capital resources, natural resources, and intermediate goods.

  • Little Nino's Pizzeria

    Little Nino's Pizzerialesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.

    Students are read the story Little Nino's Pizzeria and identify the inputs in a pizza, categorizing them as intermediate goods, natural resources, human resources, and capital resources. They use a Venn diagram to sort attributes of each restaurant mentioned in the story and the attributes the restaurants share. As an assessment, students write a restaurant review, categorizing the inputs of pizza.

  • Meet Kit: An American Girl

    Meet Kit: An American Girllesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students listen to the story Meet Kit about a young girl's life in America during the Great Depression. They learn through discussion and role-playing about the impact that unemployment and reduced consumer and business spending can have on people's lives.

  • Messy Bessey's Holidays

    Economics for Kids Messy Bessey's Holidayslesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    In the book, Messy Bessey's Holidays, Bessey wants to make holiday cookies to give as presents to her friends. Students learn the factors of production, natural resources, human resources and capital resources (capital goods); as well as the intermediate goods used in making cookies. As assessment of knowledge, students classify factors of production and intermediate goods.

  • Money, Money, Honey Bunny!

    Money, Money, Honey Bunny! lesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    Students listen to a story written in rhyme about a bunny who has a lot of money in her piggy bank. Students distinguish between spending and saving and goods and services. They play a matching game to review the content of the story and to practice rhyming words.

  • Monster Musical Chairs

    Elementary Economics Education Resources & Monster Musical Chairs lesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.

    Students listen to the story and identify the scarcity problem the monsters had—not enough chairs for every monster to have one. Students wear a picture of a want they have drawn and play a version of musical chairs in which the chairs are labeled goods. Students learn that a good can satisfy a want. They also learn that, because of scarcity, not everyone's wants are satisfied.

  • On the Court with ... Michael Jordan

    Economics for Kids & On the Court with Michael Jordanlesson (.pdf) This book is out of print but is available used and in electronic format.

    Students participate in a simulation to learn about choices, alternatives, opportunity cost and human capital. They learn the PACED decision-making model, apply the model and recognize that learning the model is an investment in their human capital. Student groups build a tower with paper cups. Each group has different physical abilities based on an assigned level of human capital.

  • One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference

    One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Differencelesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    Students learn the definition of entrepreneurship and are introduced to the characteristics of entrepreneurs. Students are asked to apply these characteristics to themselves and people in their own communities by completing a story pyramid and then writing a short story that demonstrates how entrepreneurial activity can contribute to higher standards of living.

  • Piggy Bank Primer: Saving and Budgeting

    Economics and Personal Finance for Kids Piggy Bank Primerstudent activity book (.pdf)
    teacher's guide (.pdf)

    Through a story and activities, the student book introduces students to economic concepts such as saving, spending, budgeting, wants, goods, services and opportunity cost.

    Order print copies of the activity book and teacher's guide for use in your classroom »

  • Piggy Bank Primer: 25 Cents Worth of History

    Piggy Bank Primer: 25 Cents Worth of Historystudent activity book (.pdf)
    answer key (.pdf)

    25 Cents Worth of History is the second student activity book in "The Piggy Bank Primer" series. Young fans of Pig E. Bank will enjoy this new activity book, designed for students ages 8-10 who take a close look at nickels and quarters commemorating many of the proudest moments in our country and in the seven states that make up the Eighth District of the Federal Reserve. Other topics include the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Mint and the history and resources of Eighth District states. Activities include: designing a state coin, matching the "fun facts" with the correct state, locating Fed branch cities on a map and determining which states are endowed with particular natural resources. You'll learn something fun and interesting with each turn of a page.

  • Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression

    Potato: A Tale from the Great Depressionlesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.

    After reading and discussing a story about a family during the Great Depression, students differentiate between goods, services, barter, and money. Students are led through several rounds of a barter activity that incorporates math skills. Through this activity, students learn about the difficulties of using barter to satisfy wants.

  • Saturday Sancocho

    Saturday Sancocho lesson (.pdf) This book is out of print but is available used.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students listen to a story and answer questions about a family in Central or South America that barters to get the ingredients for chicken sancocho, a kind of stew. The students complete sentences that record the various trades carried out by the family to obtain all of the ingredients for the sancocho. They also participate in trading activities that illustrate money's advantages over barter.

  • Saving Strawberry Farm

    Saving Strawberry Farm lesson (.pdf) This book is out of print but is available used.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    In this lesson, students learn that saving is essential to economic well-being, especially in times of extreme economic downturn. They read Saving Strawberry Farm, a story about a Depression-era family attempting to save a neighbor's farm by waging a penny auction. Students hear about the lack of goods and services available and the high rate of joblessness during this terrible time. They simulate a bank run to see how even those with savings were affected. Finally, they learn that savings are safe in banks today.

  • Sheep in a Shop

    Sheep in a Shop lesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students listen to a story about sheep that go shopping for a gift. Unfortunately, they don't have quite enough money and must barter wool to obtain the gift they want. The students discuss what barter is and suggest other solutions to the sheep's problems. Students earn cotton balls and pennies for work that they do. They use the cotton balls to decorate a sheep and use extra cotton balls and pennies to buy additional decorations for their sheep.

  • Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building

    Little Nino's Pizzerialesson (.pdf)
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    In this lesson, students learn about human resources, productivity, human capital, and physical capital. They participate in three rounds of a reasoning activity. From round to round they receive training and tools to help them improve their reasoning ability and thus increase their productivity. Students will then listen to a story about how the Empire State Building was built and identify examples of key concepts mentioned or shown in the book.

  • So Few of Me

    So Few of Melesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    Students learn about scarcity, alternatives, choices and opportunity costs by reading So Few of Me. The class participates in an activity to help Perdita figure out her morning schedule at summer camp. The students identify Perdita's alternatives, choose activities for her and identify the opportunity costs of those choices. Then, students work in groups to make choices and identify opportunity costs for Juan's after-school schedule.

  • Something from Nothing

    Something from Nothinglesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    Students make a choice between a cookie and an ice cream cone and state the opportunity cost of their decisions. They then listen to the story Something from Nothing and identify all the items Grandpa makes his grandson Joseph, beginning with a blanket. Using a sheet of paper that represents Joseph's blanket, students cut out the various items Grandpa made and identify the opportunity cost for each item they cut out.

  • Something Special For Me

    Something Special for Melesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    In this lesson, students learn about the act of saving and how the accumulation of money saved is termed savings. They are read a story about a family that saves and how savings can be used to make a large purchase the family would not ordinarily be able to make. They recognize that there is an opportunity cost to saving, as well as an opportunity cost to spending.

  • Supermarket

    Supermarketlesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    After reading a story about a supermarket, students examine the change in supermarket jobs due to the advances in technology. Students observe two demonstrations. One simulates the checkout process at a grocery store using a cash register, and the other uses scanners that are in stores today. Students conclude which method is faster and more accurate and why.

  • Ten Mile Day

    Ten Mile Daylesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    In this multidisciplinary lesson, students work in small groups ("work crews") while participating in a production activity. Students learn about competition, division of labor, and incentives. They also demonstrate how division of labor and incentives help lead to greater productivity.

  • The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies

    The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies lesson (.pdf)
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    This book is in print and available.

    In this lesson, students hear a story about Brother and Sister Bear, who seem to want everything. The little cubs learn that they must make choices because they cannot have everything they want. Students follow along with the story by completing an activity listing all of the goods that will satisfy the cubs' wants. The students then take part in an activity to construct a word web and graphic organizer (table) to identify goods that will satisfy a want. They will make a choice, identify the problem of scarcity, and recognize their opportunity cost.

  • The Berenstain Bears: Old Hat New Hat

    The Berenstain Bears: Old Hat New Hat lesson (.pdf)
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    In this lesson, students make a choice about what they want to eat for dinner, but then they are asked to trade with a partner and discuss whether they like their new dinner better. Based on this discussion, they learn about preferences and how they help us make choices. Students then hear a story about a little bear who looks at many hats to see if he can find a new one he likes. Students will relate key concepts from the lesson to the story and create a hat to discuss their own choices and preferences with the class.

  • The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money

    The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money lesson (.pdf)
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    In this lesson, students hear a story about two little bears whose parents use several figures of speech relating to money. Students draw a picture of a bank and write a caption explaining their illustration. Students follow along with the story by listening for additional figures of speech and how they relate to the concepts of banks and interest. The students also construct a story map of an event in the story relating to why people choose to keep their money in banks.

  • The Case of the Shrunken Allowance

    The Case of the Shrunken Allowancelesson (.pdf) This book is out of print but is available used.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students listen to a story about P.B. who thinks money is missing from the peanut butter jar on his window ledge. In addition to basic concepts of saving and spending, students learn currency equivalency and some measurement concepts.

  • The Goat in the Rug

    The Goat in the Ruglesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students listen to the book The Goat in the Rug, about a Navajo weaver who uses a number of resources and intermediate goods to make a traditional Navajo rug. The students are placed in groups to learn about productive resources and intermediate goods. They play a matching game and make posters to classify the natural resources, human resources, capital resources and intermediate goods used in the story.

  • The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza

    The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizzalesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    Students learn about consumers and producers and give examples from the book The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza. They become producers by making bookmarks. The students draw pictures on their bookmarks of something that happened at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the story. They become consumers when they use their bookmarks to mark a page in a book they are reading.

  • The Pickle Patch Bathtub

    The Pickle Patch Bathtublesson (.pdf) This book is out of print but is available used.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students learn about opportunity cost, saving, savings goals and a savings plan by reading The Pickle Patch Bathtub. Students will develop savings plans that lead to their own savings goals.

  • Tortilla Factory

    Tortilla Factorylesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.

    Students observe the teacher produce a paper taco and then produce their own paper tacos. Students learn about the productive resources and intermediate goods used to make final goods and services. They listen to the book Tortilla Factory and identify the productive resources and intermediate goods used to produce corn tortillas. Students classify the resources used to produce their paper tacos.

  • Uncle Jed's Barbershop

    Elementary Economics Education Resources & Uncle Jed's Barbershoplesson (.pdf) This book is in print and available.
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students listen to the book Uncle Jed's Barbershop, about an African-American barber who, despite significant setbacks, saves enough money to buy his own barbershop. From the story, students learn about saving, savings goals, opportunity cost, and segregation. The students participate in a card game to further investigate what it takes to reach a savings goal.

  • Wants on a Continuum

    Page One Economics Icon lesson (.pdf)
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)

    Students will understand that people can't have everything that they want and that they must make choices. Working in groups students will prioritize a list of goods in the order of their wants from greatest to least. Students will display and discuss their work with the use of a whiteboard.

  • Worth!

    Worth! Lesson Plan lesson (.pdf)
    whiteboard (SMART/.notebook)
    whiteboard (ActivInspire/.flipchart)

    Students participate in a banking role play in which they portray roles based on characters in the book Worth! by A. LaFaye. The students learn about banking, profit, risk, and reward. Students discuss some of the factors that affect loan interest rates and the availability of credit. Students apply their knowledge of the content by writing a fictional applicant a letter of acceptance or rejection.