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When we make decisions, it is good to compare costs and benefits. In the "Three Little Pigs," two little pigs could have used this decision making skill!

KEY CONCEPTS

Cost/Benefit Analysis, Decision Making

STUDENTS WILL

  • Identify the costs and benefits of decisions.

INTRODUCTION

What can "The Three Little Pigs" teach us about decision making?
One pig wanted to hurry and build his house so he could go out and play. Does that sound like one or more of your students? One pig spent a little more time building his house, but he still skimped on quality so he could go and play. When the wolf came, down went the houses! The cost of doing quick work hardly matched the benefit of being able to play!Students will be given examples of decisions and they will identify the cost or benefits of those decisions.

MATERIALS


PROCESS

A cost is what you give up when you decide to do something.

[NOTE: This is a definition to cost taken from the EconEdLink Glossary]

COST: Best referred to as opportunity cost, this is the highest valued alternative foregone in the pursuit of an activity. This is a hallmark of anything dealing with economics -- or life for that matter -- because any action that you take prevents you from doing something else. The value expressed in terms of satisfaction of the foregone activity is your opportunity cost. Because there are usually several alternatives that aren't pursued, opportunity cost is the highest-valued one. An opportunity cost is sometimes compensated with some form of payment, like a wage. However, the existence of an opportunity cost is independent of any actual cash outlay.

A benefit is something that satisfies your wants.

pigsWhen making a decision, students should consider the costs and the benefits of that decision.

Use this link to hear a story about "The Three Little Pigs."

Ask the students after the story: Would you build a house that you knew a wolf could blow down? [No.] Why did the first little pig build his house of straw? [Remind the students that the first little pig wanted to get done fast so he could play.] So, when he built his house out of straw he had the BENEFIT of being able to play all those other days! He made a decision and the BENEFIT of being able to play those extra days was what he gained! But what did the first little pig lose? Yes, he lost his house.wolf

He made a decision and the COST of that decision was that the wolf could blow his house down. The second little pig made a decision, too.

worried pigHe decided to build his house out of wood. What was the BENEFIT of that decision? What did he gain? Yes, he gained a nice wooden house and a few days to play. When the second little pig made the decision to build his house out of wood, there was also a COST. What was the COST? What did he give up? [He gave up his house, because the wolf blew it down.]

happy pigThe third little pig built his house out of bricks. He made the decision to build his house out of bricks and he had a COST and a BENEFIT, too. When he built his house out of bricks, what was his COST? What did he have to give up that the other pigs did not have to give up? [He had to give up playing.] When he built his house out of bricks, what was his BENEFIT?[He had a house that the wolf could not blow down.]

mad pigThe first little pig built his house out of straw. His benefit was that he got to go out and play. His cost was that he lost his house. Do you think he would make a better decision now if he thought about his cost and benefit?

The second little pig built his house out of wood. His benefit was that he got a nice house and he got to go out and play a few extra days. His cost was that he lost his house. Do you think he would make a better decision now if he thought about his cost and benefit?

CONCLUSION

We all like to go and play. This story teaches us that we need to make good decisions. We need to think about our costs and benefits. Good decision making requires that the students are able to think about the negatives and positives of the decision. This ability to analyze is a skill and it has to be introduced and practiced just like other skills!

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY

The students will identify the costs and benefits of these decisions:

Here are some "Three Little Pigs" coloring sheets.

EDUCATOR REVIEWS

  • “I like this lesson. I used both the Three Little Pigs and opportunity cost in my social studies class.”

    Laura Naviaux   POSTED ON November 2, 2004

  • “This is one of the best websites I have seen. I used it with my class and they were engaged the entire time.”

    Lisa Ferland, Falls Church, VA   POSTED ON February 27, 2006

  • “Thanks for sharing a great lesson plan and link that will help the students have fun while learning!”

    Dryscamp, Georgia   POSTED ON October 21, 2006

  • “The 3 Little Pigs Lesson and the City Mouse/Country Mouse lesson were both great examples of cost/benefit analysis. My students were on task the entire time.”

    Karen L., Missouri   POSTED ON June 1, 2007

  • “I used this lesson plan in the elementary education department with pre-service students at Arkansas Northeastern College. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.”

    Sonja B., Osceola, AR   POSTED ON February 3, 2008

  • “Helpful stuff!”

    Lindsay H., Hanford, CA   POSTED ON October 31, 2010

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