Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: You Can’t Buy a Dinosaur with a Dime


You Can’t Buy a Dinosaur with a Dime is a children’s story by Harriet Ziefert which involves a little boy named Pete who learns to save money in order to buy a small dinosaur from Harry’s Store.  Pete learns that it takes time and effort to earn the money he wants to spend.  The book illustrates Pete laying all of his coins face- down on the table in order for him to properly count the number of change he has in his bank.  By the end of the story Pete realizes that the less he spends, the more he can save for a future shopping trip.

  • “Pete’s bank is almost empty now.  He puts it on a shelf.  He has a brand- new dinosaur and thirty cents total wealth.” (pg. 6)

  • ” ‘You’ll get two dollars,; ” says Dad, ‘if you clean the yard.  Then you can start to save again.  The work is not too hard.’ ” (pg. 9)

  • “Pete makes a tough decision.  Dad’s waiting at the door.  He chooses Stegasaurus- and won’t spend any more.” (pg. 20)

Curriculum Connections
You Can’t Buy a Dinosaur with a Dime would be extremely useful to read to students as an introduction to a unit on spending and saving.  It reviews the idea of buying an item in a store, as well as saving money over a period of time in order to have a greater amount to spend later on.  These ideas connect with the Virginia SOLs K.7, 1.8, and 1.9 in Economics which explain that people have to work to earn money, have to make choices because they cannot have everything they want, and that people save money for the future to purchase goods and services.

Additional Resources

  • This lesson plan looks at the story Money, Money, Honey Bunny and has the students focus on what good and services are being exchanged.

  • This lesson teaches students the idea of opportunity cost and what has to be given up in order to buy something else.

  • An imaginary trading post is produced in this lesson plan where students have a certain amount of goods and services they can exchange between each other.

General Information
: You Can’t Buy a Dinosaur with a Dime
Author: Harriet Ziefert
Illustrator: Amanda Haley
Publisher: Blue Apple Books
Publication Date: may 2003
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K- 2
ISBN: 978- 1929766819

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