Teaching Economics in Any Classroom: Using EconEdLink to Engage Students of All Ages

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The 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression forever highlighted the importance of understanding economics and intelligent financial decision-making. Today’s students grow up in a world of complex financial systems that demands teaching economic literacy as a crucial life skill. 

EconEdLink (reviewed here) shares many teacher-created lessons, activities, and multimedia resources to teach economics and is an excellent resource for classroom teachers of all grade levels. Some of the newest content focuses on economic and social issues that encourage students to think critically about ethical issues. Use the dropdown feature under the Classroom Resources to browse lessons by grade or topic or to find downloadable assessments.

Elementary Economics: Laying the Groundwork

Even young students can grasp basic economic concepts. EconEdLink’s section for K-5 teachers has many activities, videos, and lessons introducing basic concepts such as goods and services, supply and demand, and entrepreneurship.

  • Many lessons easily adapt to other classroom subjects and integrate with calendar events. For example:
    • Include No Extra Room on the Mayflower as you learn about Native Americans or celebrate Thanksgiving.
    • Choose Every Penny Counts when teaching lessons about money.
    • Several activities include literature and extended book activities. Some books featured for elementary students include A Chair for My Mother, Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, and Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday.

Middle School: Making Connections 

In middle school, students begin to analyze more complex economic interactions and systems and continue to connect classroom learning to events in the real world. Topics found in middle school activities include decision-making, basic financial knowledge, budgeting, and income.

  • Sample middle school offerings include:
    • An introductory economics test is available as a pre and post-test to determine understanding of basic economic concepts.
    • A lesson about stock prices and the Super Bowl guides students through analyzing the cost of Super Bowl advertisements vs. the impact on the purchaser’s stock price.
    • Comparing Pizza Prices is an individual student activity. Students compare the cost of pepperoni pizza at two restaurants and discuss the potential reasons for price differences. Resources include a link to a quiz created with Quizziz (reviewed here), a pre-made assessment, and a student worksheet. 

High School: Applying Understanding 

High school activities and lessons focus on In-depth economics and personal finance lessons that prepare students for economic realities after graduation. Topics for high school students include employment and unemployment, advertising and market structures, and ethics and social responsibility.

  • Much of the high school content aligns with student interests and current events to engage students in learning. For example:
    • Transitioning to Driverless Cars asks students to analyze the impact of driverless cars on goods and services in the community. This activity includes multiple options for students to choose from.
    • Planning an International Trip engages students in learning about foreign currency through planning a foreign trip with a $1,500 budget and comparing three destinations to determine the best vacation based on value for their money.
    • The Cost of Renting a Place to Live provides practice in budgeting by asking students to view a video and analyze the costs involved with rent that goes beyond the cost of an apartment.

Family Learning Opportunities: 

Economic literacy is for everyone, so EconEdLink offers a Family Resources section that includes activities for hosting a Family Financial Fun Night event. Suggestions include instructions for five hands-on banking activities and a downloadable Family-at-Home Financial Fun Pack.

Building a foundation for financial literacy begins with our youngest students and should be part of a life-long learning process. There are many reasons why sound financial literacy is essential, including that it builds real-life skills, promotes responsible decision-making, connects with other subjects and historical events, and demonstrates the positive outcomes of sound financial planning.

How do you teach economics and financial literacy? Do you have a favorite resource or activity? Share your ideas in the comments below as we learn together.

About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.

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