Who would think Economics For Kids would actually be fun?
It can be! When you give students the opportunity to make money, spend money create a business, sell their products and buy from other students. Then its fun!
This is a Project Based Learning Unit on Economics combines Math, Social Studies and ELA and kids get to not only learn about Economics, but actually get to start their own business!
You can’t learn about Economics without using money!
What fun would that be? On the first day of the unit the students are introduced to the “Classroom Economics System” of Apple Bucks. The lesson outlines how students can earn and lose Apple Bucks daily. In my class, the students earn a daily wage of 20 Apple Bucks for doing their class job and they pay 2 Apple Bucks back to me in taxes (it is never too early to learn about taxes and bills). They even pay rent for their desk space weekly.
We have a list of ideas on how much certain things cost and they can even get a speeding ticket for running in the halls or inside the classroom. Noise violations? Yep! That’s $2.
Keeping Track of their Money
Students keep track of their own finances using a register and they store their money in a wallet, that we make in class and they decorate on their own. Hint: It is just an envelope!
During the week, they have opportunities to earn more Apple Bucks and they are expected to use them to use the bathroom, if they forget their homework, to get a drink and there are many more ways listed in our FREE Classroom Economy Activity.
We have various discussions on salaries, why we pay taxes and what the heck does that money go towards. I even announce each day when I collect taxes (followed by numerous groans) what I will be spending today’s tax money on. I pick something on new sidewalks for our town, filling pot holes, replacing power lines, fixing the roads, buying new school buses, etc. This gives the students the idea that we all pay taxes and how that money is often used.
Before the big project of how to run a business, the students must learn about various topics to help them to be a better business owner.
We discuss Needs VS. Wants. There are a few lessons included in our economics unit on it and a group interactive project. This then leads into “What is a Producer and Consumer?” and “How does price effect demand?”. Included in the unit are various links to suggested You-Tube videos and worksheets that accompany the topics.
A few days are spent on the concept of Limited Resources and Supply and Demand. The students are able to use their knowledge they have gained so far to problem solve with a group or a partner. The students are presented with various problems where supply is in demand, remember the toilet paper crisis? They remember that as well and it will resonate with them. They also can relate to a favorite toy being wiped all the shelves because the demand is so high. As a group or on their own, they even present their solutions to the class.
Farm to Table
Where does our milk come from?
I love this part of the unit where students get to learn the process of milk from the cow to their cereal bowl. It is quite the process and the kids love learning about how it works. You may learn a thing or two as well!
Starting the Business Process
Now it is time to start their own business! For most students this is their favorite part.
Students are given their own Business Plan book which is included in the unit. In the business plan book there are numerous pages that help students understand the process.
Included in the unit is a Financial Literacy story. This is a story about a brother and sister who want to start their own small business. The teacher reads a part of the story each day and the students learn along side these kids and work on their business with them. It is a great way to open your lesson each day. Each part of the story goes with a few pages in the Business Plan book. I love how it flows.
During the process students pick out their product they want to sell, make profit goals, decide if they want a business partner, make a supply list with prices, do research on prices, apply for a business license, make a logo, make store signs and market to the class, learn how to receive money and make change, keep track of their money and so much more. All along they are using their Apple Bucks to pay for their supplies.
Getting Ready for Market Day
Each activity in the unit is getting them ready for the big day, Market Day. This is the Culminating Event. The day before Market Day, the class practices dealing with customers, making change, and recording the amount of money they made. Make sure your students really know how to do this because when the Market Day comes, it is fast and they lose track quickly.
The final day is Market Day, this day is much anticipated. They get to finally sell their products that they have worked so hard on. The classroom is set up like a Marketplace. The tables and desks are moved around. The students got to choose specific real estate locations based on the most traffic and they paid for those spots using their Apple Bucks.
A few days before Market Day, I put them up for sale and they have to purchase their store space with their Apple Bucks.
About a week ahead of time, we invite parents and school staff to come to our Marketplace. Before the business are open it is commercial time. Each student or set of business partners presents their business to the audience. This can also be done by videoing the students ahead of time with commercials.
Then, I give each parent a random number of Apple Bucks to spend and the marketplace is open. It is so much fun to see the students selling their items to all the parents, siblings, family and staff that came to see the stores. They are giving change (I encourage parents to give a random amount of money so the child is forced to give change), marketing their products, having conversations and it is such a blast. The students see how their hard work pays off.
Absolutely NO REAL MONEY is used. All the products can be made in class if you choose.
This is the absolutely best unit I do all year long.
Advantages of this Project Based Learning Unit
The students gain so much knowledge of Economics, and they get a real world view, plus they get a chance to open a business! The teacher has an easy buy in and I have never had a student not enjoy some part of the project. The excitement of this unit is so much fun to watch in the students. They can’t believe they are opening their own business. They take so much pride in their work and really grasped the concepts. Each year, most of my students say that this project is the highlight of their year.
Come into my TPT store to check out this Project Based Learning Economics Unit. The entire process is laid out and it is completely step by step. This project can be worked on for 6 weeks or it can be much less depending how much time you have have to devote. There are many parts that can be taken out as well.