Use these questions with children 8 to 11 years old to discuss the following economic concepts in Because of Winn-Dixie: goods, employee, employer, income, installment plan, job, money, and services.
Book written by Kate DiCamillo (ISBN: 978-0-7636-0776-0 [hardcover] and ISBN: 978-0-7636-1605-2 [paperback]).
1. Goods are objects that satisfy people's wants. What goods did Opal plan to buy at the Winn-Dixie grocery store on the day she rescued the stray dog?
A box of macaroni and cheese, white rice, and tomatoes
2. An employee is a person who works for another person or business to earn an income. This means that person is employed. Which Winn-Dixie employees are mentioned in the story? What other employees might work at the store?
The book specifically mentions the store manager. It also refers to an "army of employees" but does not say what they do. Employees who might work at Winn-Dixie include cashiers, people who stock the shelves, manage departments, clean the store, or keep records about the store's sales, costs, and inventory.
3. Income is payment that people earn for the work they do. What work does Opal's father do to earn an income?
He is a preacher.
4. People spend money on goods and services for their pets. What goods did Opal want to buy for Winn-Dixie at Gertrude's Pets? What are some other goods Opal will likely want to buy for Winn-Dixie in the future?
Opal wanted to buy Winn-Dixie a red leather collar with a matching leash. Future purchases she will likely want to buy include goods, such as dog toys, dog treats, a dog bed, or dog food, and the services of a veterinarian to make sure the dog is and stays healthy.
5. Why couldn't Opal buy the goods she wanted for Winn-Dixie?
The collar and leash were very expensive, and she didn't have the money to buy them.
6. How did Opal plan to buy the collar and leash for Winn-Dixie?
She wanted to buy them on an installment plan; that is, she wanted to take the collar and leash with her that day but make weekly payments (installment payments).
7. Explain that when something is purchased on an installment plan, people are able to take the item with them even though they aren't able to pay the full price at the time. What items do you think people might buy on installment
Examples include large appliances and furniture.
8. Did Otis, the employee at the pet shop, agree with Opal's plan to buy the collar and leash on an installment plan? Why or why not?
No. He said the owner wouldn't like an installment plan.
9. A job is work done to earn an income. Since Otis didn't agree to an installment plan, what was Opal's next idea?
She asked Otis for a job so she could earn income for her work and use it to buy the collar and leash.
10. Employers look for certain characteristics in people they want to hire. How did Opal describe herself when asking to be hired for a job? What did she ask as a benefit of the job?
She said she was honest and trustworthy. As a benefit, she asked that Winn-Dixie be allowed to come to work with her if she got the job.
11. An employer is a person or company that hires employees to do work. Who was Otis's employer?
Gertrude was the owner of the pet store and Otis's employer. She hired Otis to work in the pet store for her.
12. People can earn income by exchanging physical and/or mental work for wages or a salary. Did Opal earn income by exchanging physical work or mental work?
Most of the work that Opal did was physical work: sweeping and cleaning. Occasionally, there was mental work involved, too, as when she thought of how to arrange things better.
13. Opal earned an hourly wage—what was it?
The book doesn't tell how much she was paid, but we know she was paid according to the time she worked because Otis wrote her time down in a notebook.
Chapters 18 to 20
14. Services are actions that can satisfy people's wants. In addition to the services she provided at the pet store, what are some services Opal provided for others?
Opal gave Winn-Dixie a bath (earlier in the story), read to Gloria Dump, and helped prepare for the party. She also agreed to work for Otis for a week without pay in exchange for him attending the party.
Chapters 21 to 26
15. At the party at Gloria Dump's house, what goods did the guests bring?
Otis brought a jar of pickles. Miss Franny Block brought Littmus Lozenges. Sweetie Pie brought dog pictures she cut out of magazines.
16. What service did Otis provide for the party?
He played his guitar to provide music.
17. After reading the book, do you think the story has a good title? Why or why not?
Answers may vary but should include interactions and events that were affected by the winning personality and uniqueness of the dog, Winn-Dixie.
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