Goods and Services: Some are Private, Some are Not


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Students will construct a community map bulletin board using construction paper cutouts of businesses and structures. Students explore the goods and services available in their community to determine that some are privately produced and governments provide others. Students learn that taxes, fees, and loans pay for government goods and services.


In this lesson, you will distinguish between goods and services provided by private businesses and those provided by government.  You will learn why government provides certain goods and services, and explain that taxes collected by government are used to pay for goods and services provided by governments.


  1. Look at Visual 1. Where would you call to report a broken swing set in the park? 
  2. Your teacher will randomly distribute one card from either Activity 1 or Activity 2 to you. 
  3. Read the cards and write the answer to the question on the back of the cards.
  4. Direct your attention to the blank bulletin board. The bulletin board is a picture of a community. What is missing?Park
  5. Look at the answers you wrote on the back of your cards. Share your answer with the class.
  6. Your answers are examples of buildings and structures that are missing from the community. You will make construction-paper cutouts of structures that you have written on the back of their cards.
  7. Look at the construction paper parks department as a model.
  8. Your teacher will give you a piece of construction paper, scissors, and crayons. Make your construction-paper structures. When you are finished, share your structures with the class.
  9. Some buildings and structures represent businesses. Businesses produce and sell goods and services to people. Some buildings and structures represent goods and services provided by government to their citizens.
  10. Look at the parks department cutout. Tape the appropriate card from Activity 2 on the construction paper cutout.
  11. Your teacher will distribute tape to you. Tape the cards from Activity 1 or Activity 2 on the construction paper structures so that the name of each structure is visible.
  12. Attach each structure to the bulletin board and label it “Our Community.” Draw streets and a river on the bulletin board. Discuss the following.
    1. What do the two different color labels on the buildings and structures in our community have in common?
    2. Who provides our community with the greater number of goods and services we want? 
    3. What goods and services are provided by the privately owned businesses? Businesses sell these goods and services to their customers.
    4. What goods and services does government provide? The government collects taxes from people and businesses in the community to be able to pay for these goods and services.
  13. Look at the mess in the classroom from the activity. Discuss the following.
    1. Is it fair for one person to clean up the room while the rest of us go out to play? Why not? 
    2. Who should clean up the mess?
    3. What might happen if we ask everyone to clean up the room voluntarily? Is this fair? 
    4. What happens when people make a mess in our parks? 
    5. Who pays for the goods and services bought from private businesses such as a fast food restaurant, movie theater, or grocery store? 
    6. Who pays for the goods and services provided by the government?
  14. Taxes are monies paid by people to the government. Government uses these monies to pay for goods and services it provides.
  15. Sometimes these goods and services are also paid for with fees such as bridge and highway tolls and entrance fees to public parks.
  16. Government can borrow money to pay for some goods and services that require a great deal of money to produce, such as national defense, health insurance for the elderly, and education, if they do not collect enough taxes. When the government borrows money, it must pay it back with interest.
  17. Discuss the following.
    1. What are some types of taxes?
    2. Why does government provide certain goods and services? 
    3. If consumers want these goods and services, why won’t private businesses provide them?
    4. Can you give some examples from the community? 
  18. Look at Visual 2 and sing, “Some Are Private; Some Are Not.”


The role of government is to provide for the common defense, define and protect property rights, and enforce contractual arrangements. Throughout the 20th and early 21st century, government's has increased its role in economic life. In this lesson you have learned about the contrast between public and private goods. Public goods are those provided by the government because of inefficiencies, which persist in the private sector. 


Answer the following questions.

  1. What are private goods and services? 
  2. What are some examples of private goods and services?
  3. What are some examples of goods and services provided by government? 
  4. How does government pay for these goods and services? 
  5. What are taxes?
  6. Why do private businesses not provide the kinds of goods and services that government provides?
  7. Why do citizens think that government should provide certain goods and services?

White House

Your teacher will distribute a copy of Activity 3 to each student. You will play the rold of a detective and look for goods and services provided by government and private businesses. Read newspapers, listen to television and radio news stories, and walk through your commnity and look for examples. List five examples of private goods and services and five examples of goods and services provided by government. For each good or service listed, you should write where you obtained the information.


  1. A fable is a short tale in which animals talk and a lesson is learned. Write a fable that teaches how goods and services provided by government benefit a community.
  2. Write new verses for the song, “Some Are Private; Some Are Not.”