Great Depression: Lessons for Grades 2-5
Educators, use these high-quality lesson plans for teaching about the Great Depression (for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade). These teaching resources were created by economic education experts at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and are free to use in your classroom.
Students listen to the story Meet Kit about a young girl’s life in America during the Great Depression. Through discussion and role-playing, they learn about the impact that unemployment and reduced consumer and business spending can have on people’s lives.
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.
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.
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.