Archive for the 'economics' Category

Economics Ideas: Human Resources

In elementary school, students are learn about human, natural, and capital resources as part of their economics unit. These resources are closely related to the student’s study of goods and services. Human resources are defined as people who work to provide services or to produce goods.



Abuela’s Weave is a story that follows Esperanza and her Abuela as they work hard on their weaving to prepare goods to sell in the village. They live in a small, market town in Guatemala and must provide for their family with the money that they make. This story is a great way to illustrate the process of producing a good and how the end result plays out.


The book How Santa Got His Job follows Santa from the beginning of his career, to his final job as the Santa Claus we know today. It begins with him as a chimney sweeper, and details his journey from job to job, as he learns many different skills that eventually lead to him becoming Santa Claus. For example, he works at the post office to learn about delivering packages, he works at the zoo, where he falls in love with reindeer, and so on. This is a great book to illustrate how different types of human resources require very specific skills, many of which are learned skills.


Human resources typically are working to provide a service or create a product. In this book, students can explore how one good (in this case, a book) goes through many different stages of production and requires lots of human resources. The author, Aliki, has provided two different levels of text. The big text is very basic and follows the simple story line, while the smaller text is much more detailed and describes the finer points of book production. This would be a great way to use the book for various ages or to differentiate a classroom.


Eric Carle uses his whimsical collage-style illustration to tell the story of Walter the baker in this book. Walter is the main baker for the Duke and Duchess of his home town and his specialty is his sweet rolls. When he gets to asked to make a type of roll that the sun can shine through three times, he must rush to meet the challenge. The story follows his journey of producing the new type of roll, which in turn illustrates how a human resource (the baker) uses specific skills to produce a product.


All of Charlie’s friends and family tell him that he needs a new cloak. He is a poor shepherd so he cannot afford to buy himself a new one – he decides instead to make one! The story follows his production of a beautiful new red cloak, from shearing his sheep to weaving and dying the cloth to sewing the actual cloak. The idea that specific skills are required to make various products is reiterated for students in this book.


1. In this website, students can explore different jobs and what those jobs entail. It also helps students understand that different human resources play different roles in our community.

2. In this matching game, the students must match the human resource with their role in the community. It is an interesting way for students to explore the different skills required for jobs.\

3. This site is a huge database of jobs that are sorted by skill and interest. Students can go to the site, choose a subject area or area of interest, and then the site guides them through many different career options. This could be part of a fun webquest!

4. This is another matching game, but this time the students must explore which human resource pairs up with which capital resource.

5. Here is a webquest that allows students not only to explore human resources, but also the concepts of natural resources, capital resources, and goods and services. In the end, students create a simple product and must present and advertise it to the class.

Additional Resources

1. This is a great lesson plan based on the book The Tortilla Factory by Gary Paulsen. The lesson reviews capital, natural, and human resources and includes a fun craft.

2. Another great lesson plan, this activity takes students through the process of making crayons. Crayons are something that all kids love and can relate to, and it’s a process that they may not know about. The lesson focuses on how resources are used in the crayon production.

3. This upper elementary lesson plan helps students explore different jobs and what those jobs entail. As they read about different jobs around the community, they begin to understand how specific the skills are for each human resource in our community.

4. For lower elementary students, this lesson plan is a great way to familiarize them with the concepts of natural, capital, and human resources. The lesson plan focuses on a very well known story – The Three Little Pigs!


Teaching About Community in a Preschool Classroom

It can be difficult to explain what a community is to a preschool classroom.  Community helpers are often included in preschool themes, but the overall community is frequently overlooked.  Here are some great resources for teaching children about living in a community– sharing, cleaning up after ourselves, being kind to others, and of course: the community helpers that keep us safe, and our community running.



David Gets in Trouble by David ShannonThis book, part of Shannon’s David series helps children to understand that actions have consequences.  The funny story and creative drawings will keep children drawn in. This story teaches children that they need to think about the things they do and admit when they have made a mistake.

Stone Soup by Heather ForestThis clever story has been told serveral times by several different authors, however the story never gets old.  A hungry stranger tells some people in the village that he can make a pot of soup out of some water and stones.  As word spreads and curiosity grows, the entire town works together to find everything the stranger suggests to be added into the soup.  The result is a delicious pot of soup that the entire town worked together to create.  This book is fantastic for teaching the value of teamwork and sharing.

The Subway Sparrow by Leyla TorresThe subway Sparrow is a wonderful book about a sparrow that gets stuck on a subway car in new york city.  The passengers on the subway– all different backgrounds and ethnicities– work together to save the sparrow.  Torres created a book with great illustrations and an even better message.  A community has to work together to accomplish it’s goals.

Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margaret CuylerMrs. Ruler’s has some unusual tendencies.   She always speaks in rhyme and she disciplines her students by making them complete kind acts for one another.  The students love being kind to each other so much that they start completing as many acts of kindness as they can!  The fun rhyming in the story will draw children in and the story aptly teaches the importance of looking out for others.

Career Day  by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Lizzy RockwellThis book features a classroom career day.  Each student explains to the class what their parent or guardian does for a living.  The book covers a variety of job and careers making it extremely useful for teaching about community helpers.

Resources for Children

Barney’s Clean-Up GameHelp Barney clean up!  Can you put the objects in the right container?

Who’s at The Door? Identify the correct community helper based on a given clue!

The Litterbug BlastKeep the community clean by cleaning up the litter before it builds up and covers the town!

Dora and the Thankful Old Troll Help Dora the Explorer cheer up the troll! Can you get him to say thank you?

Create a BadgeCreate your own firefighter badge!

Resources for Teachers

Everything Preschool Community Helpers ThemeThis site contains games, books, songs, activities, crafts and more– all about community helpers!

Dora’s Clean Room Activity PackThese printables can be handed out as a book or in sections to help children learn about putting their things away.

Teaching Social Studies in PreschoolThis site has a great section on teaching about community, community helpers, and saftey.

Songs for Teaching This page contains songs about jobs, hygiene, getting dressed, cleaning up, and being part of a community!

Economics: Needs and Wants

Everyone has wants.  However, students need to realize that people can not have everything they want.   Choices have to be made.  Some choices are made based on our basic needs, which include food, clothing, and shelter.  The following books are intended to be used in a kindergarten or first grade classroom. (SOL K.7a, 1.8)

Text annotation:

The Bag I'm Taking to Grandma's

The Bag I’m Taking to Grandma’s written by Shirley Neitzel and illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker is one of the best books I read that illustrates the difference between needs and wants.  In this story a young boy is packing his bag to spend the night with his grandmother.  He packs so many of his favorite toys that the bag breaks when his mother picks it up.  While trying to sort through all the items the boy has packed the mother asks “Is this flashlight something you really need?”  She also tells him that he needs to “choose one car. You can’t take them all.”  Students should easily relate to this story as most have probably had to pack a bag for a vacation or sleepover.  The story is written and illustrated so that while reading the text a picture is inserted to represent the word, allowing non readers to follow along and participate.

A Chair for my mother

The book A Chair for My Mother written by Vera B. Williams is full of economic lessons.  The story is told by a young girl that lives with her mother and grandmother.  After a fire destroyed everything they had, neighbors donated many items to help refurbish their new apartment.  Even after the generosity of the neighbors, the family still lacked a comfortable chair to sit in and the money to buy one.  The family works together to collect and save their change in a jar until it is full enough to go buy a new chair.

How much is that doggie in the window?

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?, based on the words and music of Bob Merrill, is a story retold and illustrated by Iza Trapani.  The story starts with a young boy who hopes to buy a dog.  Unfortunately, he does not have enough money.  He decides to sell lemonade to earn enough money for the dog.  However, it rains and he does not sell any.  Then his younger sister gets hurt and to help her feel better he buys her a frozen yogurt.  He then proceeds to buy something for his mother and father that he thinks they need.  That is why a week later he has even less money than he started with.  He is saddened when he goes to the pet shop to visit the dog only to find that it has been sold.  When he gets home there is a surprise waiting for him.

if you give a pig a pancake

The story If You Give a Pig A Pancake by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond is more about wants then needs.  In this cleverly written story “If you give a pig a pancake, she’ll want some syrup to go with it,” is just the start of many things the pig will want. This story circles around from the beginning of wanting syrup, a bath with bubbles, and many other things to building a tree house and finally wanting pancakes with syrup at the end. The pictures are colorful and depict the chaos that follows the pig and all her wants.

jam & jelly by holly & nellie

Jam & Jelly by Holly & Nellie is a heartwarming story written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen.  Holly and her family live in northern Michigan “where the winter wind lays hold of you and the snow falls until everything is like a sheet of white paper.”  Holly’s mother, Nellie, realizes that Holly will need a new winter coat.  If Holly does not get a coat, then she will have to stay inside all winter and miss school.  Holly and her mother work hard all summer picking wild strawberries, Juneberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries to make jams and jellies to sell on the side of the road.  Winter comes and Holly gets a coat, but what keeps her the warmest is all the pleasant memories from the summer.  The illustrations are wonderfully done with vibrant colors and realistic people and countryside scenes.

Web sites:

The Council for Economic Education has a few lessons and interactive tools for k-3.  At the bottom of the lesson titled “Toys for Me: A Lesson in Choice, in the Resources section, is an interactive game called Health Wants vs. Fun Wants.  The student will determine if items such as water, a bike, medicine, a kite, a house, and a doll are health wants or fun wants by clicking and dragging the items to the appropriate box. (SOL K.7a)

Most schools have a subscription to Kidspiration, if not then there is a 30 day free trial period.  Within the Social Studies section, there is a graphic organizer where students can click and drag different pictures to put in the “needs” and “wants” boxes. (SOL K.7a)Kidspiration Wants and Needs activity.

Students that have a  Webkinz account may not realize it but they are making decisions based on needs and wants when they play.  Once you adopt your pet, you are given a room (shelter) for them.  You are then responsible for earning KinzCash to buy items for your pet.  If you do not feed it and take it to the vet occasionally, then it gets very sick.  With your KinzCash you may purchase clothes, toys and items for the house. (SOL K.7)

Suffolk Teaching Activities & Resources (STAR) website has two interactive games for students.  The first one is the “Wants and Needs Sort,” a game created in Excel.  The second game is “Wants and Needs,” an interactive Power Point activity.  This second game may be best done as a class.

Teacher resources:

The Council for Economic Education has a few lessons and interactive tools for teaching economics in the k-3 classroom.   In the lesson “Toys for Me: A Lesson in Choice”  there is a story poem that can be read to the class and discussion questions to go along with it.  The poem is about a girl named Scarcity who wants many things.  Her mother tells her that she must choose one because it is “this OR that” not “this AND that.”  If Scarcity can not choose one or the other then she will get nothing.  The lessons on this site cover SOL’s K.7, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, and 2.9.

Suffolk Teaching Activities & Resources (STAR) website has several lessons and activities for SOL K.7.  It is also a great resource for just about any SOL.

Putting lesson content to song is a good way to reach many students.  The Kid’s Econ Poster site has two songs about wants (SOL k.7a).  The first one is called Be Careful of what you want and the other is the Wanting Song.”  These songs are sung to the tune of familiar children songs.  There are many other songs on this site that tackle other economic lessons.

The Junior Achievement organization has a fantastic program designed for first graders that covers several economic concepts and map skills (K.5, K. 6, K.7, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9).  A business professional would come into the classroom for 30 minutes for five weeks to cover the content.

  • Books

To find books that correlate to the lesson topic there are two sites that are helpful.  The first is from Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences and it will list the top five books for your economic topic.  The other site is called Connections: Connecting books to the Virginia SOLs.  

Teaching Economics Through Children’s Literature: Pennies for Elephants

pennies for elephants


Pennies for Elephants written and illustrated by Lita Judge is a wonderful tale based on a true story of how the children of Boston came together to save three very special circus elephants.  A brother and sister duo unite to raise $6000 to save the elephants, which in 1914 is no small task.  They ask all the children in Boston to donate their pennies, but they only have two months to save them.  Soon children from all along the east coast are donating their pennies to keep these three circus elephants at the Boston zoo.

This heartwarming story teaches children the importance and satisfaction of saving money.  The illustration and newspaper clippings make the book unique while bring the audience into the time period of the book.  This book introduces children to the important ideas of economics and emphases saving, using a topic that all children love, the circus.

Curriculum Connections

This heartwarming story is more that just a book about keeping beloved elephants in Boston.  It introduces kids to saving, opportunity cost, and interdependence.  The children of Boston are left with tough choices about how to use the little money they have (1.8, 1.9, 3.9).  Saving their pennies is the only way that the elephants can stay (2.8).

Additional Resources

  • Kids’ Turn Central this site provides information for kids about the importance of saving and investing money.  It also tells of the possible benefits and losses that can occur and explains complicated economics concepts in terms that older children can understand.
  • Economy for Kids provides information about the current state of the economy for both children and teachers.  Provides a dictionary for economic terms for kids. lesson plans , and links to what the government is doing in this economic rough spot.
  • Econopolis provides games and activities for students just starting to learn about economics.  It covers areas such as supply and demand,  producers and consumers, and goods and services.

 General Information

  • Book: Pennies for Elephants
  • Written by/ Illustrated by: Lita Judge
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • Publication Date:2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade
  • ISBN:142311390X

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Max’s Bunny Business



Max’s Bunny Business is a very cute and fun way to help teach kids about buying things and earning money to pay for those things. This story follows Max the bunny and his friends as they scheme up ideas to earn enough money to buy a fire angle ring from their favorite store. Max and his friends do everything from selling lemonade to selling Halloween candy in an effort to earn enough money for the desired ring. However, a competition ends up occurring between Max and his friends when they don’t see eye to eye on business practices. As a result, only Max ends up with a fire angel ring because the store ran out of rings so this book could also help introduce the concept of supply and demand.

Curriculum Connections

This book could be used to satisfy VA SOLS K.7 (b). This strand requires that students recognize that people use money to purchase goods. This book would be fun to read prior to hosting an activity where students sell items to their classmates (using fake money of course!) or a classroom store is opened up. Another fun thing to do after reading this book would be to have students brainstorm different fun/odd jobs they could do to earn money.

Additional Resources

This website managed by Nick Jr. is all about the TV series Max & Ruby and the website features lots of online games, activity ideas, recipes, and TV clips. A great resource to accompany the book.

This webpage features several coloring pages that feature Max & Ruby!

This site provides lesson plans and activity ideas that incorporate the main characters from Max’s Bunny Business.

General Information

Book: Max’s Bunny Business
Author: Rosemary Wells
Illustrator:Rosemary Wells
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publishing date: May 15, 2008
Pages: 32
Grade range: K-2
ISBN-10: 0670011053

Teaching First Grade Math: Money

Teachers can use the following resources for students that are in the first grade who are learning about money with a total value up to 100 cents or less (Virginia Standards of Learning for 1.7 a & b).

Text Annotations:


 The Coin Counting Book written by Rozanne Lanczak Williams is a fun rhyming book for students to learn about counting money and it’s value.  The book introduces pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters as a way for students to do simple math with rhyme:

“Let’s count our five pennies just one more time. If we add five more pennies we’ll have…one dime.”

Actual size coins are spread out over the pages showing both front and back for student learning.  If the book says to count five pennies as an example, there are five pennies laid out on the page with a addition sign in between each coin to help with student visualization.  The book ends by showing a hand placing coins in a piggy bank making the statement: “If we save some of it- the rest we can spend!” 



Pigs will be Pigs, Fun with Math and Money written by Amy Axelrod and illustrated by Sharon McGinley-Nally is about a family of hungry pigs looking for money in their house so they can go to their favorite place to eat a snack.  This is a great book for introducing students in the first grade to money.  The pig family is hungry and realize they do not have enough money to go out to eat; so Mrs. Pig decides that everyone will “Hunt for Money!”.  The book describes where in the house and how much money everyone in the family finds while on the money hunt.  In the end, the Pigs have enough money to eat out and when they arrive home they find their house in a mess from their hunt.  Pigs will always be pigs.   



The book, 26 Letters and 99 Cents written by Tana Hoban provides photos of numbers from 1-30, counting by 5’s from 30-90 and 99.  Beside of each number there is a photo of coins that shows the value of the number when added.  The book can be shown to the whole class while identifying each coin and the value.  This would also be a great book for students to look at during the day as a center activity, etc.  The book shows students both the front and back of real American coins: pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in their actual size.  This helps students to visualize the size and identification of each coin.



The book If You Made A Million written by David M. Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Kellogg is a book where students can really use their imagination.  Readers are given different scenarios with spending anything from one penny to purchase a peeble all the way up to one million dollars with the option of saving the money at the bank.  This would be a great way to ask students for ideas about what they would purchase with different amounts of money.  Schwartz gives differnet forms of measurement for various amounts of money.  For example, one hundred dollars in pennies stacked up would be equal to fifty feet or a million dollars in quarters would equal a whale’s weight.  This is a great book to help students realize that a paper bill is sometimes easier (and lighter) to carry around instead of coins.



The last text would be a great resource for students who are in need of a more challenging way to think about money and its uses.  Money Madness written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Edward Miller explains how money first originated and how money is now used to purchase different items from around the world.  The book starts off by asking:

“What’s all this money madness? People talk about money and work for it. They seem to always want more of it…”

The book gives examples of why people now use money to purchase a variety of items.  If people did not have money then they would have to make their own bread.  Adler explains at a child’s level how people first started to trade by introducing the word, barter.  An example that Adler used was when a person would trade an animal in exchange for berries. Even though the person receiving the berries might not want them he knew that someone else would want to trade the berries for something that he wanted or needed in return. The book explains how rocks were used as an early form of money and then replaced by metals (silver and gold).  The silver and gold pieces were made into coins but were at times difficult to carry if someone had a lot.  Paper money was then invented.  Adler explains how each country has it’s own form of money and that the value of the money can vary from place to place.  “You know with money you can buy things you want. With money you can buy things you need.”

Web Annotations:

Students can play the game Change It  for additional practice on adding up different coin values.  Teachers can create each game to specifically fit each students instructional level. 

GPB Kids has created a web-site for students to play a game where they are given nine different items that they need to buy.  Players are instructed to buy one of the nine items by dragging the correct coin(s) to the matching picture in the chart.  If the player is right then they can move on to the next problem; if not, they have the chance to try again.

Teachers can create different tutorials for students by selecting any combination of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters for practice.  For each category chosen, students are provided a picture of real money on the left side of the screen and need to select the correct value of the money from the right side of the screen.  If the student selects the correct amount of money they can move on to the next problem.  If an incorrect answer is chosen, then the student can try again.

HMH School Publishers created a great money practice tool for students.  For the activity, coins are lined up in decreasing value from largest to smallest.  Students need to count the value of the coins and type the correct amount of money in the blank provided.  Students then need to click on “check” to see if they have typed in the correct amount.  If so, the student will hear chimes, if an incorrect amount is typed in then the student will see a screen flash up that explains the amount is either greater or less than the answer that was entered.

Kid 20/20 has an activity, Coin Sort that students can play on-line.  Students are given 280 seconds to properly place different coins in the corresponding piggy bank.  Each piggy bank is labeled with either pennies, nickels or dimes on the side.  Students must click on each coin and drag it to the proper piggy bank.  If the coin is taken to the correct piggy bank then the coin will disappear and the value of the coin will be added to the amount already in the piggy bank.  Students can visually watch as the amount increases by either one, five or ten cents.

Additional Resources:

The United States Mint has a great web-site that teachers can use for various reasons.  The site contains ideas for lesson plans, coin programs which give detailed information about each coin and coin curricula.  Teachers can also use the site for class activities: game centers, web gadgets (worksheets), learning centers (ways to bring in different areas of the curriculum and financial literacy). 

Scholastic has a great web-site for teachers.  Teachers can download different activities from worksheets, foldables, mini-books, and even lesson plans.  Click on “Teachers Resources” and select lesson plans, printables or mini-books. Narrow each search by selecting 1st grade, math and then money from each category on the left hand side of the screen.  *This web-site requires a yearly paid subscription.*

Teaching Money Skills by Grade Level: First Grade is an article that teachers can read prior to teaching first grade students about money.  The article provides a review and instructional method for teaching a lesson or unit on money.  The article recommends that teachers use play/fake money with their students for a hands-on learning experience.  After the unit lesson on money, students should be prepared for second grade math: addition and subtraction of money. 

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Economy


The Economy written by Terence O’Hara gives an in-depth look at the economy of the United States and includes topics such as, free enterprise, the law of supply and demand, how businesses work, business cycles, and different types of economies from around the world.  This book is an excellent introduction into how our economy works because it gives readers real-world examples of the topics listed above.  For example, in explaining supply and demand, O’Hara talks about the “Playstation 2” video gaming system.

In 200o, the Sony Corporation came out with Playstation 2, the hottest home video gaming system ever.  If you could find it in a store, it cost anywhere between $100 and $200.  The problem was you couldn’t find it in any store.  Demand was so high…that sores ran out of them.  But the demand for the new game machines didn’t go away just because the supply was limited.  So the cost went through the roof. (p. 23 & 24)

Some other real world examples are how Henry Ford created the first assembly line when it came to building cars.  Now all car manufacturers use the assembly line in order to produce automobiles.  In the section of “how businesses work,” O’Hara talks about how banking helps our economy grow, from small independent contractors to large corporations.  Banks take a risk by lending people money in order to start businesses.  This leads into the topic of “business cycles.”  If banks take too much of a risk, it can cause banks to fail which can lead us into a bear market or even a depression.  O’Hara gives a progression of how the economy used to be in the past and gives fact-based information on how our economy has evolved.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be good for teachers to read to students who are in upper elementary classes due to its technical nature.  There are several terms which would not be suited for younger elementary students, such as capitalism, inflation, bull and bear markets, globalization, etc.  The book does talk about cost and opportunity cost.   “There are no free lunches…everything, even if you think it’s free costs something.  Every decision a person makes is rooted in cost-benefit analysis: in other words, what will it cost me and what will I get out of it?” (p.25)  He gives the example of a student sharpening her pencil.  Her writing might be clearer but she may interrupt the teacher. (VA SOL 3.9)  Several of the topics involve our use of natural resources, such as corn.  He talks about human resources, such as the industrial revolution, and capital resources, such as robots installing fiber optic cables in sewers.  (VA SOL 2.7)  This book expands on those SOL.  There are no illustrations in the book but there are good pictures of past and present.

Additional Resources

  • is a website dedicated to teaching elementary students about money.  Topics are “Basic Money Skills,” “Earning and Spending,” “Saving and Investing,” etc.
  • Economics Fun and Games is an interactive website for kids.  There are several games kids can play on this site relating to economics.
  • Lemonade Stand This is a website dedicated for games in economics.  Also good for developing math skills.

Book: The Economy
  Terence O’Hara
Publisher: Chelsea House Publishers
Publication Date:
64 pages
Grade Range:

Teaching Economics With Children’s Literature: 26 Letters and 99 Cents


Introduction and Summary

26 Letters and 99 Cents is a great introductory book for students regarding money. It goes through multiple ways of making different amounts of cents, such as 6 cents (6 pennies, or 1 nickel and 1 penny).  Each example shows the number next to the examples, which show actual coins so students start understanding the coins’ values.  Examples go up to 99 cents. This is a great way to introduce the concept of money to students and help them understand its value.

Curriculum Connections

26 Letters and 99 Cents can be used to go with SOL K.7, where students begin to recognize that money is what people use to buy goods and is an important things to understand. This book is a good resource and can be used in teaching introduction to economics or even in mathematics.

Additional Resources

Scholastic had this great extension activity to do with the book once the students have read it. 

Here is a lesson plan called Number Cents where students get to work with real nickels and pennies like they saw in the book. 

Lastly, this is a lesson plan where the book can even be utilized while teaching second graders. 

General Information

Book:  26 Letters and 99 Cents

Author:  Tana Hoban

Illustrator:  none

Publisher: Mulberry Books

Publication Date: 1987

Pages: Grade Range: K-1

ISBN: 0-688=06361-6

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Estela’s Swap


Introduction and Summary
Estela’s Swap written by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez,is about a young girl from Santa Ana named Estela. She is selling her music box at the Swap Meet for ten dollars so that she could pay for folk-dancing lessons that Estela has beein saving for all year. Estela learns how to bargain as she walks the meet with her father:

“As the seller, you name a price that’s a little more than what you are willing to take. That way you have room to bargain.

Estela encounters a old woman across the street who enjoys listening to the music box while sewing a skirt. As Estela begins bargaining with customers, a strong wind blows through the Swap Meet. Estela runs to help the old woman across the street who is selling paper flowers as they all blow away. As Estela grabs the tent, her music box falls to the ground. Estela  ignores her music box as she attempts to collect the flowers for the old woman. The woman gives Estela back her music box which is relatively unharmed from the wind. Estela decides to give the woman her box so that she can listen to music while she makes more flowers for the next Swap Meet. At the end of the Swap Meet, the old woman gives Estela the skirt she had been working on. Estela is very excited about her first swap and looks forward to next time to learn how to sell.

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce concepts of economics to young elementary students.  Key vocabulary could include goods, buyer, seller, money, savings, and barter . The book explores concepts of bargaining as well as selling to gain money in order to buy something else (SOL K.7b, 1.7, 2.8). Estela decides to sell her music box because she wants lessons, so she gives up something in exchange for something else (SOL 1.8). Students will enjoy learning about saving money for a specific item (SOL 1.9). A civics lesson is also incorporated into the story as Estela helps the old woman with her flowers even though she puts her own sale of the music box at risk (SOL 1.10a, K.8e)

Additional Resources

Book: Estela’s Swap
Alexis O’Neill
Illustrator: Enrique O. Sanchez
Publisher: Lee and Low Books
Publication Date: 2002
Pages:  29
Grade Range: Kindergarten-2nd grade
ISBN: 1584300442

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money


Introduction and Summary

In Trouble With Money, by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Brother and Sister Bear are very good at spending money.  Any time they receive money from a grandparent or from a neighbor, they run to the Country Mall and spend it all.  One day their mother decides they should start receiving an allowance  so that they may learn the value of money.  Their father says that they should instead earn their money so Brother and Sister Bear decide to start doing odd jobs to make money.  They begin to make a lot of money.  When their father finds out that they start to sell the family’s secret location of the best honey trees he gets very upset.  At the end of the story the little bears give their father all of their hard earned money so that he won’t have any worries about money.  The cubs have learned a lesson!  Finally they get to go to the bank to put the money into a savings account to earn interest.  A great story for any child that is learning about the value of saving money.

Curriculum Connections

Trouble With Money could be a useful resource for first grade students that are learning about the value of money and about saving and spending.  Students could have this book read to them or try to read it themselves.  Then they could write a short passage about what they would do if they were given an allowance, save it or spend it.  Students should be encouraged to think about money in a postive way. (VA SOL’s 1.7, 1.8, 1.9)

Additional Resources

  • Planet Orange – Virtual lessons on saving and spending money for kids.

General Information

Book:  The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money
Author:  Stan and Jan Berenstain
Illustrator:  Stain and Jan Berenstain
Publisher: Random House Inc.
Publication Date: 1983
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN: 0-394-85917-0