To be honest, economics is not my favorite thing to teach. Maybe it stems from that one economics class I took in college that was SO BORING and honestly way over my head. Every once in awhile, I will still have a nightmare that I skipped economics class so many times that I failed! Don’t worry, I only skipped once or twice, but that was enough to give this rule follower nightmares to this day. Thankfully, I don’t have to go too deep when teaching economics at the elementary level.
In the elementary grades, students learn about the basics of economics. They need to have a working understanding of terms like goods / services, consumer / producer, needs / wants, and supply / demand. Since these terms are taught in some form starting in first grade, students can usually grasp these concepts pretty quickly. I created an introduction to economics unit several years ago to hit the high points, but in a short amount of time. (Because, you know, instruction time in the classroom is SACRED.)
I have included the main topics I cover each day of my unit to get you started. No time to plan your own unit? Mine is available on Teachers Pay Teachers in print and digital formats.
Economics Day 1: Money
As an introduction to economics, I have students begin with a ‘quick write’ to assess background knowledge and get them thinking about money. We read and discuss the informational text “The History of Money” and complete the jot chart. Students create their own form of money. We end with a little review using the true or false opinion classroom meter. Also included are reading skills practice pages to use with the informational text “The History of Money” passage-cause/ effect and context clues. These could be used as part of the reading block to cover reading standards if needed.
Economics Day 2: Goods & Services
Students usually have a basic understanding of goods and services, so one day to practice is usually enough. We read an informational text on goods / services and then fill in word definitions on a vocabulary foldable. I also have students color and fill in a goods and services “coloring notes” page. Students absolutely LOVE them! Students complete a goods / services sort and another practice page. The lesson ends with a fun school-wide scavenger hunt to search for goods and services around the campus.
Another fun way to practice goods and services is with BOOM™ cards. Kids LOVE reviewing concepts with boom cards! They are great to set up at a technology work center.
Economics Day 3: Consumers / Producers & Needs / Wants
I use this day to teach students the difference between consumers and producers. Students read the informational text about consumers / producers and fill out another “coloring notes” page. I also have students record the definitions on the vocabulary foldable. We also practice identifying consumers / producers. For an extension activity, I have students research the largest producers of common goods around the world.
Economics Day 4: Supply & Demand
Students will be able to explain how supply and demand affect the price of a good or service. Read the supply / demand informational reading passage and fill in the coloring notes. Students will also fill in the definitions on the vocabulary foldable. To practice supply and demand, I have students complete a set of task cards. Students can work individually, with a partner, or in a small group to complete the task cards.
Economics Day 5: Budgeting
The best learning involves real world problems. To wrap up our study of economics, I have students create a meal plan on a budget. Students have to plan and shop for a week’s worth of dinners. Students will then reflect on their budgeting experiences.
You can find this economics unit here!