Saturday, October 27, 2012

Making Economics Come Alive

Economics is such a hard concept for kids.  With the election this year, they are hearing this term on every commercial break!  Based on some of the ideas of the amazing, Beth Newingham, we use a classroom economy structure.  Students earn money for their classroom job each day.  On Fridays, we open the bank and have pay day.  About four times a year, we open our Seussville shops. This is when the magic happens!  Students had the opportunity to be real “consumers” and purchase “goods” at our classroom store.  This is such a busy activity, so we needed a few extra hands to make this work. First, we divided the students into four different groups where each with a different activity to complete in 15 minutes before we rotated to the next group.
One group spent time on the computer completing economics simulations.  Here are the sites we used:
One group met with me on the floor to learn important economics concepts.  We discussed vocabulary terms and questions from our standards.  With a small group, we were able to really help kids understand their role in our classroom economy and their parent’s role in our larger economy.

One group spent time shopping.  This was, of course, the most exciting rotation.  Kids brought their money to the store and collected items.  The shop owner (a wonderful parent volunteer) had the kids do their own math by totaling up their items purchased before she would give them a hand-written receipt to take to the bank.  From there, the kids paid for the purchases at our bank with another volunteer.  The funniest part was when the kids refused to spend all of their money because they were worried about taxes!  Can you get anymore real-life than this?

Our last group observed the shopping.  This was such a powerful rotation because the students were looking for items that were in high demand or low demand and even items that were scarce.  When all groups had completed all the rotations, we regrouped as a class and discussed their observations.  I was able to help the students understand that shop owners want to know which items were in high demand so they could raise prices.  The students really understood!