The Family Vacation
Students will take a surprise trip around the world. As they travel, they will use clues to discover where they are going. They will then figure out how much money they have spent in U.S. dollars, using exchange rates.
KEY CONCEPTS
Exchange, Exchange Rate, Money
STUDENTS WILL
 Identify the foreign countries that they will visit to determine the meaning of exchange rates.
 Use exchange rates to figure out how much money they spent in each country and on the entire trip.
INTRODUCTION
Tell your students that a family meeting is scheduled at 7:00 P.M. tonight. At the meeting, their parents have told them they are going on a surprise family vacation. Before they leave, however, they will be given clues about where they are going to visit. They will have to identify the countries they will visit, identify the capital of each country, and determine how much money in U.S. dollars they will spend in each country. They will need to use exchange rates to figure out their actual cost for each place they visit. Finally, they will add up the total cost of the trip.
MATERIALS

How Exchange Rates Work: This article explains what exchange rates are and what the factors are that affect them.
money.howstuffworks.com/exchangerate.htm

Go Currency: Use this website to convert foreign currency into American dollars.
www.gocurrency.com/currencytrading.htm

World Atlas: This site provides an electronic world atlas which gives maps and other information about many countries.
www.worldatlas.com

Capitals: This site provides a list of the capitals of nearly 200 countries of the world.
geography.about.com

Appendixes: Use these handouts to complete the activity.
Appendix A Clues
Appendix B Vacation Log
Appendix B Answer Key
Appendix C Exchange Rates

Marketplace: Let's Go Euro!: This EconEdLink lesson deals with exchange rates and focuses on the Euro.
www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.php?lid=299&type=educator
PROCESS
You will need the following materials:
 Laminated desktop world maps
 Atlases, electronic or paper
 Exchange rate information
 Vacation log
 Pencils or pens
 Calculators
Before beginning the lesson, ask the students the following questions:
 How could a person buy items with cash if she or he went to another country?
 How would a person get the currency from another country?
 How would a person know how much foreign currency an American dollar is worth?
Then introduce the concept of exchange rates. Have the students visit How Stuff Works
to read an article on 'How Exchange Rates Work.' Ask the students for a definition of exchange rates. If they can't provide a definition, have them look up the meaning. An acceptable definition for exchange rate is: the method used to calculate the value of one currency compared to another currency.
At this point you will need to decide if you want the students to use the exchange rate sheet which is in Appendix C or use the website, which automatically converts currency at today's rates. If you use the Go Currency
website to convert currency, the answer key should be used only to identify the country, its capital, and its currency. The amount spent in U.S. dollars will not be accurate since that amount will change based on the given exchange rate for the day the lesson is done in class.
Now you are ready to begin the activity.
Procedures:
1. Place the students in groups of three or four.
2. Hand out the materials to the groups.
3. Give each group the sheets with the clues for identifying the places the family is going to visit. (See Appendix A for the clues and Appendix B for the family vacation log. If you are using the exchange rate sheet, use Appendix C to get the exchange rates.)
4. Explain how to calculate exchange rates. The formula is:
Or Refer the students to Go Currency website which will calculate exchange rates for them; or use the exchange rate sheet in Appendix C.
5. The students will also identify the capital cities of the countries they are going to visit. Refer them to the Online Atlas , the paper atlases, or the capital city site
6. Let the students work through the clues and complete the Vacation Log worksheet. Groups should work independently.
7. Monitor the progress of the groups and provide assistance as needed.
8. Have the groups share results for each clue, one at a time. You will provide the correct answers with the class for each clue, one at a time.
ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY
Students will complete the Family Vacation Log using the clues provided.
CONCLUSION
Tell the students that they have now completed their worldwide family vacation. They have used exchange rates to determine how many U.S. dollars they spent on this trip. The trip cost a lot of money, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Ask the students to explain how different exchange rates affect the purchasing power of a person traveling abroad. (Favorable exchange rates increase our purchasing power).
EXTENSION ACTIVITY
Have the students practice converting U.S. dollars into the currency of at least five different countries, using the Go Currency website. The "Currency Converter" can be found at the top left side of the page.
Ask the students why exchange rates vary between countries. [It is based on the supply of and demand for a country's currency.]
Related EconEdLink Lesson: Marketplace: Let's Go Euro!
EDUCATOR REVIEWS

“I believe this would be very helpful for the students. Not only will they learn about the exchange rates but also this will enrich their knowledge on geography by identifying the capitals of countries. This might also encourage the students to travel abroad and thus, promote tourism and international cooperation.”

“Excellent lesson plan to a first hand information on a very important concept of exchange.”

“Could definitely use this in my classes. Thanks!!”

“The lesson sounds like a good one. Do you have an answer sheet for the activity? EconEdLink: The answer sheet is located under "Resources" and is linked as "Appendix B Answer Sheet." If you click on the link you can download the answer key for the activity.”

“I thought I'd really like this activity and as I started preparing to use it I came across a few problems: it doesn't have a link for Appendix D. There is no answer key so this added to the prep time since I had to go ahead and actually do all the calculations ahead of time; not necessarily a BAD thing, but more work than I planned. Also, lessons should have an approximate time listed to complete the lesson for those using it their first time. I hope this helps improve the lesson because I think it is a great activity. [Note from econedlink; Appendix D was actually Appendix C so please note the change. As for the answer key the students are to determine the countries on their own, refer to this link for a list of countries and their capitals http://geography.about.com/od/countryinformation/a/capitals.htm]”

“Is there an answer key for the countries visited? [Note from econedlink; for the answer key the students are to determine the countries on their own, refer to this link for a list of countries and their capitals http://geography.about.com/od/countryinformation/a/capitals.htm]”

“Great activity! However, there are a couple of typos in your answer key. Clue 7 amount spent does not match the clue; therefore, US amount is off. Also, there is a transposition in the total. I believe it is 12892 not 12982. EconEdLink: We have fixed the numbers and the transposition error. Thank you”

“From your experience, how long did the whole lesson take to complete?
Econedlink: We develop the lessons with the intent of them being 2040 minutes in length. There are lessons that take longer because there is more content covered. We also have lessons that are designed to be three and four part lessons, those lessons are intended to be spaced out over a longer time period.”