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.
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.
Students study a painting by van Gogh called, "Flower Beds in Holland." The students recognize that this farmer made a choice to grow flowers instead of another crop. Students are introduced to the concepts of choice and opportunity cost.
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.