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Posted: 12/21/2006
Fed resource: Once Upon a Dime
Short description: In-class barter activity
Lesson time: 60 minutes
Materials: One copy of Once Upon a Dime for each student
Audience: Elementary School, Middle School
Grades: 4, 5, 6
Subjects: Money and Banking
Concepts: Money and Banking - Barter, Money
Documents: None
Prior to reading Part One of the comic book, Once Upon a Dime, tell students they will participate in a barter activity. Explain that barter is the direct exchange of goods, services and resources without the use of money. Have students (with parental permission) bring an item from home that they are willing to trade with others in the classroom. Allow time for students to trade. After a 10-15 minute trading period, ask the following questions:

1. How many of you did not trade at all? (Answers will vary.) Why? (Sample answers: No one wanted what I had. There was nothing anyone had that I wanted more than what I had.)

2. How many of you traded more than one time? (Answers will vary.) Why? (Sample answers: In order to get what I really wanted I had to trade several times. Because I could break my item into useful parts, sticks of gum for example, I was able to trade for more than one item.)

Read Part One of the comic book. Discuss the following.

1. What did Dr. Millicent Dilligent and Captain Sharky really want for their wedding? (Answer: Lots of beautiful flowers.)

2. What did they have to do to get the flowers? (Answer: Trade many times)

3. Why were they upset by this? (Answer: Because it took a long time, and it was complicated.)

4. How did their experience with barter compare with your classroom experience with barter? (Explanation: Some students in class wouldn’t trade because no one had something they wanted more than what the students had brought to trade. People wouldn’t trade with Dr. Dilligent and Sharky because they didn’t have something that the other people wanted. Dr. Dilligent and Sharky had to trade often which took a lot of time to get the things they wanted most.)

5. What did King Bomba decide to do? (Answer: To use DIMES as money and trade using money.)

6. Why did using dimes improve trade in Mazuma? (Answer: Because it made it easier and faster for people to get the things that they wanted. Point out that the dimes were a good medium of exchange - an item generally accepted as payment for other items - because the people of Mazuma were willing to accept dimes as payment, dimes were portable, divisible and durable. Dimes were also used as a standard of measure, which means that all of the goods and services in Mazuma were prices or valued in dimes. People paid the right number of dimes to get the things they wanted.)

Submitted by: Mary Suiter
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis