Students encounter the concept of scarcity in their daily tasks but have little comprehension as to its meaning or how to deal with the concept of scarcity. Scarcity is really about knowing that often life is 'This OR That' not 'This AND That'. This lesson plan for students in grades K-2 and 3-5 introduces the concept of scarcity by illustrating how time is finite and how life involves a series of choices. Specifically, this lesson teaches students about scarcity and choice: Scarcity means we all have to make choices and all choices involve "costs." Not only do you have to make a choice every minute of the day because of scarcity, but, when making a choice, you have to give up something. This cost is called oppportunity cost. Opportunity cost is defined as the value of the next best thing you would have chosen. It is not the value of all things you could have chosen. Choice gives us 'benefits' and choice gives us 'costs'. Not only do you have to make a choice every minute of the day, because of scarcity, but also, when making a choice, you have to give up something of value (opportunity cost). To be asked to make a choice between 'this toy OR that toy' is difficult for students who want every toy. A goal in life for each of us is to look at our wants, determine our opportunities, and try and make the best choices by weighing the benefits and costs.
Ancient Hawaii was ruled by chiefs, who were responsible for the well-being of their people and for managing the islands' resources. The chiefs divided the islands into land districts shaped like pie slices called Ahupua'a (ah-who- pu-ah-ah.) Each Ahupua'a covered the three main regions of the islands: the mountains, the valleys, and the shore. This system was designed to allow all Hawaiian communities equal access to the limited natural resources of the islands. Students will recognize that an island has limited natural resources, will understand that the Ahupua'a system was one method for allocating resources, and complete a Cost/Benefit Analysis of this method. Students will also come up with own method for distributing Hawaii's natural resources and compare it with the Ahupua'a method.
Think about a difficult decision you have had to make. After you decided did it work out? Why or why not? Why do you think decisions and choices are hard to make? We make personal decisions and we make decisions as groups. There is a tool you can use to improve your decision making that will help you reach a better outcome.
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 15 lessons that complement the 3-5 Student Workbook. Specific to grades 3-5 are a variety of activities, including a guessing game using clues to identify various occupations; the story Urban Mouse and Rural Mouse which teaches students about entrepreneurs and opportunity recognition; and a role-playing activity in which students learn which method of payment is appropriate in a variety of situations.
3 out of 17 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
This publication helps elementary students analyze energy and environment issues from an economics perspective.
3 out of 10 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
Mathematics & Economics: Connections for Life answers this question by using "real world" economics and personal finance applications to create a set of 12 hands-on and dynamic mathematics lessons for grades 3-5.
2 out of 13 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.