Grade 3-5

Jelly Belly Jam

Updated: September 23 2015,
Author: Mickey Ebert

In this lesson students will make a decision making chart and use it to help them in deciding which flavor of Jelly beans to buy.


Decisions, decisions, decisions! How can anyone make all the decisions we have today! M&M’s, Jelly Belly beans, and Starbursts all sound good! This lesson will show you a way to help with those little decisions!

Learning Objectives

  • Make a decision chart and use it to help them in deciding which flavor of Jelly Belly beans to buy.
  • Identify the opportunity cost of a decision.

Resource List


The following is an interactive story about a bear named Nathan. It is Nathan's birthday and he needs to make some important decisions. It is your job to help him make those decisions. Read the following story: Sweet Jelly Belly Beans

Sweet Jelly Belly Beans

"Happy Birthday to me!" thought Nathan as he opened a card from his aunt. Lots of money fell out of the card. Even though the card was funny, the first thing Nathan did was count the dollar bills. FIFTEEN! Aunt Jami came through! Now besides a treat and a movie later on, he was going to be able to buy something special!

"That's for your sweet tooth!" Aunt Jami explained. She knew how much Nathan loved candy.

"I better ask for money for my birthday," sighed Dad, "to pay for the dentist Nathan is going to need." Dad was just kidding. At least Nathan thought he was kidding.

"Can I get on the internet now?" Nathan figured he would decide on the candy now, so that when he went to the candy shop in the mall he would know exactly what he wanted. If he waited until he was shopping he would not be able to decide. Besides, they would be on their way to see a movie for his birthday and he wouldn't have very much time to look at all the candy and decide.

Nathan went to the site of his very favorite candy: Jelly Belly beans! He clicked on "What's New" and found all the new flavors. He found at least three new flavors that he would like to try, but he really liked the Buttered Popcorn flavor that he usually got. Tango with Mango, Chocolate Cherry Cake, and Apricot Flavor all sounded so good. Of course, he could buy the mixed flavor bag or the new 50 flavor box. How was he ever going to decide? [end of story]

So, how is Nathan going to choose what candy he wants to buy? How would you choose? Click on the site. Check out the and remember to click on to find out all the brand new flavors.

Let's review some of our basic economics:

  • Nathan has a SCARCITY problem. He wants more than he could have. That's what SCARCITY is: not being able to have everything you want. Scarcity forces us to make choices.
  • Nathan is a CONSUMER. Consumers are people who buy goods and services. And we know that Jelly Belly beans are goods – because we can hold them, taste them, and gobble them down!
  • Jelly Belly beans are produced in factories. The PRODUCTION RESOURCES are the land that the factories are on (natural), the people who work at the factories (human), and the tools and equipment that are used in the factories (capital). You can see all these resources if you hover your mouse pointer over "Visit Us", and then click on the words, "Factory Virtual Tour" at the site.

Now, let's get back to our story: Sweet Jelly Belly Beans Part II

Nathan had learned about making decisions in school. He knew he should do these things:

  1. Define the problem
  2. List the choices
  3. Evaluate the choices
  4. Make a decision!

Nathan knew what the problem was, so number one was easy! "What flavor of Jelly Belly beans should I buy?" he wrote on a piece of paper.

He knew that if he could narrow his choices down to two, that would really help. So Nathan thought and thought and decided his choices would be Cherry Chocolate Cake or Buttered Popcorn. He wrote those on the top of the paper.

Underneath Cherry Chocolate Cake he wrote all the good and bad points he could think of.

His good points were:

  1. new flavor
  2. favorite cake

His bad point was:

  1. I haven't tried this flavor so I don't know if it is good.

Underneath Buttered Popcorn he wrote the good and bad points.

The good point was:

  1. favorite flavor of all I've tried

His bad points were:

  1. I want to try something special for my birthday
  2. Will be eating real popcorn at the movie on the same day

After Nathan studied his paper, he knew what flavor to buy at the candy store! Do you? That's right, Nathan is going to try the Cherry Chocolate Cake!


Students should be familiar with the following concepts: Scarcity, Consumer, and Productive Resources. If necessary, provide a quick review to reinforce those concepts.


Since a bag of Jelly Belly beans cost almost all of the $15, Nathan couldn’t buy a mixture of those two flavors. He had to make a decision. The cost of that decision was his OPPORTUNITY COST – that’s the one thing he gave up to buy Chocolate Cherry Cake flavor. What flavor did Nathan give up? [Buttered Popcorn flavor]

Extension Activity

Consider using the following Decision Making Grid form as your students process their decisions. is a website that offers a lot of choices of candies.


Pretend you have $15 to spend on Jelly Belly beans. Go to the Jelly Belly website and fill out a decision chart just like the one Nathan used. Which flavor would you choose? What was your opportunity cost?