Grade K-2

We Can Earn Money (or) Working Hard for a Living

Updated: July 2 2015,
Author: Patricia Bonner

There are many ways for people to get money. One way most people get money is by earning it. This lesson introduces students to work activities that grown-ups do to earn money. Students also explore tasks they might do at home to earn money. They discover their choices are influenced by factors such as how much they will be paid, the amount of effort involved, job availability, and whether they will enjoy the work. Optional discussion questions introduce the human resources people need to get hired and do a job. A conceptual understanding of goods and services before this lesson is helpful.


construction workersHave you ever heard the words “working hard for a living”? Most people get the money they need to live by earning it. They get paid for making goods or providing a service. These people are called workers.

People are paid for all kinds of work. They might sell shoes, write a book, fix cars or cook food. You can tell what some workers do by the hats and other clothes they wear.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize work as a means for obtaining money.
  • Distinguish paid work from other activities people do.
  • Assess jobs they can perform to earn money.

Resource List



Have the students complete the online activity Workers and their Hats. Direct them to click and drag the names of the workers to their hats.


Hold up real examples of the hats in the online activity Workers and their Hats or show pictures of the hats. Discuss:

  1. Why do the workers in the activity wear hats?
    [Most hats are a signal as to what others can expect from the worker wearing the hat. For example, we know a worker with a police hat or fire hat will help us when we are in trouble. Helmets and other hard hats protect workers from getting hurt. The wide brim of the cowboy hat provides protection from the sun and rain. The color of a hat may also be important. The color of a football helmet or baseball cap tell us a player’s team. Fire chiefs and construction managers sometimes wear a white hat to show they are in charge.]
  2. Do these workers wear any other special clothes?
    [Possible answers: fire fighters wear boots and heavy coats. Police officers wear special uniforms and badges. Ball players also have special uniforms–with team colors–and running shoes. Chefs wear white jackets, aprons, and pants. A clown may wear bright, colorful clothes. Cowboys wear jeans, chaps and spurs.]
  3. Which workers do you think have the hardest jobs?
    [Possible answers: Firefighters and police officers have dangerous jobs. They have to work all hours of the day and night. A baker has to get up very early in the morning to have the bread ready in the morning. Construction workers and cowboys work outside regardless of the weather.]
  4. Which jobs do you think would be the most fun or interesting?
    [Responses will vary.]
  5. [Optional] Workers often need to have special knowledge and skills to get hired and to do their job. Their knowledge and skills are sometimes called their human capital (human resources). What human capital do these workers need? clown

    • Baker [Measure ingredients, decorate cakes and cookies, make change]
    • Baseball Player [Hit, throw and catch a ball, run]
    • Clown [Act silly, make people laugh]
    • Construction Worker [Read instructions, hammer, drill, operate machines]
    • Cowboy [Ride and train a horse, cook food outdoors, care for animals]
    • Firefighter [Climb a ladder, slide down a pole, use a hose, drive a fire truck]
    • Football Player [Throw, catch and kick a ball, run, stop other players who have the ball]
    • Police Officer [Run, use a gun, direct traffic, solve mysteries, drive a car or ride a motorcycle]
  6. In your family, who works to earn money? What do they do?
  7. Do they have a hat or other special clothing that they wear while working?
  8. [Optional] What human resources do they need to do their jobs?


Tell the students that some children get paid for doing chores at home. Discuss:

Do you get paid to do work? [Answers will vary but may include getting good grades, caring for a pet, washing dishes, pulling weeds, and dusting. Some students may point out that they do some of these jobs at home but don’t get paid to do them. Explain that some families do not pay for work done for the family. All family members are expected to help do work as their contribution to the family. For example, making one’s bed may be expected with no pay.]

Direct the students to examine the jobs featured on What Job Will You Choose and choose a job they would like to do for money. Discuss:

  • Are all of these jobs available where you live? [The students may not have a dog/pet to feed, car to wash, yard to clean, etc. A local community may also not recycle newspapers.]
  • What job did you choose? Why? [Responses to this question will vary. Students may note that some jobs pay more than others/ they may also mention the amount of time or effort involved, their physical and mental ability to do a job, the availability of a pet to feed or a car to wash, and what they would enjoy. Select one or two words to write on the board that summarize each factor identified.] The following questions can help prompt these responses:
  • Did the pay you would earn help you make your choice? [Some jobs pay more than others]
  • Do some jobs require more time or effort? [Some jobs are one-time tasks while others require work for a full week. Washing a car and raking leaves are more physically difficult. Drying dishes takes more time than feeding the dog.]
  • What jobs do you think would be the most fun or interesting? [Washing a car on a hot day could be fun because workers would get to use the hose. Students raking leaves may get to jump in the pile of leaves they create. Washing a car and yard work may be more fun because they are done with others.]
  • Are there any jobs you wouldn’t be allowed to do at your home? [Parents may believe a child is too young to wash the car until he or she is they are older. Point out that some jobs may not be safe for them to do such as using a stove or lawn mower.]
  • Each job requires special knowledge, skills or abilities. For the jobs we have discussed, what are these human resources? [Students have to be relatively strong to sweep, wash a car, and clean the yard. They must be tall to reach the top of the car. To recycle, they must know what can be recycled. Feeding a pet requires knowledge of how much food and water the dog needs.]
  • If you don’t know how to do a job you are interested in, what might you do? (Ask a friend or family member to show you how to do it?)
  • Have any of you changed your mind about what job you would choose? Why?
  • What other jobs could you do to earn money? [Potential answers include wash dishes, weed garden, sweep sidewalk, make bed, recycle cans, care for neighbor’s cat, etc.]

[Note to teacher: Consider projecting the student version of the lesson via an LCD projector or TV monitor and read the text to the students.]


Workers provide goods and services to earn money. Drawing on the list of factors influencing their job choices (i.e. pay, time, effort, skills and knowledge required, fun, job availability, etc.), point out that the work people do to earn money is influenced by many things. We can improve our chances of getting the job we want by investigating and finding ways to get the human resources needed.

Extension Activity

  1. Have the students create alphabet books with pictures of workers.
  2. firefighter

  3. Read the rhymes in the book What Will I Be by James Levin (Scholastic, ISBN 0-439-24023-9) and have the students guess who the workers are.
  4. Read the children’s trade book Curious George Takes a Job by H.A. Ray. Discuss the knowledge and skills George needs to accomplish each of his jobs.
  5. Invite workers to class to discuss their jobs including the task they do, what they wear, what human resources are required and what they had to do to get their job.
  6. Sing “Earning Money” (Tune: She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain), an adaptation of the song “Earning Income” published in Financial Fitness for Life: Pocket Power, K-2. Council for Economic Education, New York, NY.

    First Verse:
    We'll be earning lots of money when we work (when we work).

    We'll be earning lots of money when we work (when we work).
    We'll be earning lots of money.
    We'll be earning lots of money.
    We'll be earning lots of money when we work (when we work).

    Second Verse:
    We will sometimes get some money as a gift (as a gift).
    We will sometimes get some money as a gift (as a gift).
    We will sometimes get some money.
    We will sometimes get some money.
    We will sometimes get some money as a gift (as a gift).


After the students have completed Activities 1 and 2, have them do the interactive activity Who is Earning Money. Have the students drop and drag the dollar bills in this activity to the people who are making money.

Teacher assessment of student responses during the THINK ABOUT IT sections will also be used to evaluate student learning.