Understanding the different concepts of economics is a vital part of being financially successful. There are many aspects of economics that students can understand through role playing or creating small-scale economies to practice skills. Helping students and individuals make sound financial decisions can ultimately effect their future quality of life.
Main Street in the Classroom
Create a "main street" in your classroom, allowing students to open their own business. Each student should identify a product that they would like to market to their classmates, preferably valued at under one dollar. Examples are cookies, pencils, candy or little novelty toys. The student must create a "storefront," such as a poster at their desk. They should also create advertisements and must set their selling price based upon their cost and what they would want their profit to be. Then students are allowed to go through and purchase items. You may choose to make it a classroom fundraiser and have the students use real money or provide fake money, if you would just like it to be an educational experience. Afterwards, have each student determine how much they sold and how much profit they made.
Needs/Wants Graphic Organizer
In this project, the students use newspaper circulars or magazines to create a graphic organizer of needs and wants. A graphic organizer is visual representation of a concept or idea. In this case, students can create a poster classifying needs and wants into two different categories. You can expand on the idea of needs further, by having the students classify their needs under food, clothing and shelter. Students should see how little is really needed to survive which can lead to the discussion of frugal living.
In a factory fair, each classroom forms their own company. They create different departments such as marketing, customer service, customer support and sales. The students must work together to create a products, produce and sell the product at a school economics fair. One example is a class that creates small, beaded key chain kits. Each class will experience a small taste of what it is like to work in a real company.
In a budget project students are presented with a fixed income and normal expenses. Over the course of the unit, present students with decisions or situations that can affect their budget. For example, the students may be presented with the opportunity to purchase something or invest the money. You should also have surprise expenses, such as a car breaking down over the course of the project. By the end of the project, have students discuss their final bank accounts and net worth. Some students will have prospered while others may be on the verge of bankruptcy according to their financial decisions.
Credit: Buy Now and Pay More Later
In this project, students will calculate the cost of items purchased on credit. This project is designed to open the students' eyes to how interest can affect the actual price they pay for an item. Present the students with a items that someone would generally purchase on credit such as a car, furniture or even a shopping spree on credit cards. Have the students compute the price they actually paid for the items once interest has been factored in the equation.
Planning the Prom
In this project, students will plan a prom with a fixed budget. The students will have to make choices as to where they will spend and where they will save. This will open the students eyes to making choices, opportunity costs and scarcity.
Stock Market: Risk and Rewards
For this class project, students participate in a fictitious Wall Street. In this project, students learn to read stock prices and it relates the risk involved with the stock market. You will need a dart, dart board and stock prices. Students shoot a dart at a stock price. Their price will either rise or fall depending on where the dart falls. Students track their stock prices. You can also assign students to be brokers, responsible for shooting other students' dart.