When individuals produce goods or services, they normally trade (exchange) most of them to obtain other more desired goods or services. In doing so, individuals are immediately confronted with the problem of scarcity - as consumers they have many different goods or services to choose from, but limited income (from their own production) available to obtain the goods and services. Scarcity dictates that consumers must choose which goods and services they wish to purchase. When consumers purchase one good or service, they are giving up the chance to purchase another. The best single alternative not chosen is their opportunity cost. Since a consumer choice always involves alternatives, every consumer choice has an opportunity cost.
This is a basic lesson of scarcity and resources that can be used for elementary students or students with special needs. Scarcity - is a condition that exists because human wants exceed the capacity of available resources to satisfy those wants; also a situation in which a resource has more than one valuable use. Students often get confused with the term resources. The basic kinds of resources used to produce goods and services: land or national resources, human resources (including labor and entrepreneurship), and capital. The following exercise gives the students a kinesthetic approach to the concepts of scarcity and resources. It is a musical chairs approach to learning these economic principles.
Recently published, but likely written between 1958 and 1962, What Pet Should I Get? is the delightful tale of a definitive childhood event: selecting a family pet. The activities in this lesson focus on the decision-making process. The text, told in the classic Seuss cadence and rhyme scheme, does an excellent job a describing the many choices the siblings encounter while trying to pick the perfect pet in a limited amount of time. With the repeating line “MAKE UP YOUR MIND” this picture book is a great tool for teaching choices and decision-making.
The following lessons come from the Council for Economic Education's library of publications. Clicking the publication title or image will take you to the Council for Economic Education Store for more detailed information.
This publication contains 16 stories that complement the K-2 Student Storybook. Specific to grades K-2 are a variety of activities, including making coins out of salt dough or cookie dough; a song that teaches students about opportunity cost and decisions; and a game in which students learn the importance of savings.
16 out of 18 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
Designed primarily for elementary and middle school students, each of the 15 lessons in this guide introduces an economics concept through activities with modeling clay.
9 out of 17 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
This revised and updated "how to" guide is a great way to start a classroom business with your students.
2 out of 7 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.