Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: What is Money?


“What is Money?” by Mary Firestone introduces students to basic economic principles. It begins by demonstrating trading or bartering. “Jim wants Lucy’s candy bar. He has an apple to trade. Lucy does not want the apple. She wants an orange.” It then talks about how that problem could be solved. It also talks about today’s money and how different countries have different names for their currency. It illustrates the differences between paper bills and metal coins and shows how each are made. Lastly it talks about how people use their money. “Lucy likes to read. She spends her money on books. Lucy’s brother likes music. He spends money on CDs. They both think their mom is important. They buy her flowers on her birthday.” This book is easy to follow and also includes “fun facts,” a glossary, and a making change activity.

Curriculum Connections

This book could be used for VA History and Social Science SOL 1.8 and 1.9. It illustrates that people make choices because they cannot have everything they want. Also, people save money for the future to purchase goods and services. This book could be used as part of an anticipatory set to get the students ready to learn about economics.

Additional Resources

  • KidsBank is a neat website that gives money and other banking terms a personalty. They give students a tour and tell all about themselves.

  • Money Instructor has a ton of lesson plans on elementary economics!

  • Here’s a lesson plan that let’s students role-play in a fictional marketplace.

  • And yet more lesson plans on ProTeacher!

General Information
Book: What is Money?
Author: Mary Firestone
Publisher: Capstone Press
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 24
Grade Range: 1-3
ISBN: 0736826424

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