Sixth Grade Social Studies: Economics

Welcome to Library Academy for Educators, Middle School edition! This content is designed to complement and/or supplement lesson plans.

This content meets the stated CPALMS standards for grade level and subject, and pairs a fiction and non-fiction book as well as a classroom activity to help students understand concepts, develop background knowledge, and make connections.

You can use the plans as you like, in whole or in part, and as always, if we can assist you with additional classroom literacy needs in any way, please contact jplyouthservices@coj.net.

#SIXTH GRADE SOCIAL STUDIES: ECONOMICS

The following CPALMS standards are met in this plan:

LANGUAGE ARTS FLORIDA STANDARDS:

LAFS.6.RI.2.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.

LAFS.6.RI.3.9 Compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with that of another.

LAFS.6.SL.1.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

b. Follow rules for collegial discussions, set specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.

c. Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion.

d. Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing. 

SOCIAL STUDIES STANDARDS:

SS.6.E.1 Understand the fundamental concepts relevant to the development of a market economy.

SS.6.E.1.1 Identify the factors (new resources, increased productivity, education, technology, slave economy, territorial expansion) that increase economic growth.

READ: Pairing fiction with non-fiction books on a topic helps connect students with a concept. 

Fiction/Literary Selection 

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

Lawn Boy book cover

Gary Paulsen’s comic story about a summer job becomes a slapstick lesson in business as one boy turns a mountain of grass into a mountain of cash. 

Literary Sparks: After students have read the book, ask the following questions:

  1. Did the narrator intend to make a lot of money at the beginning of the story? What was his original goal? The narrator did not have a plan, but was successful in both his lawn care business and his stock market investments.
  2. Who was the person who helped him guide his business? Arnold, the stock trader. What were his conditions that helped his business be successful?
  3. The narrator meets Arnold, who is a stock market trader. He takes some of the narrators’ money and puts it into the stock market. How does the stock market work? People buy shares in a company, and if the company does well, the shares go up in value and you sell them to someone else and make money. OR, you can LOSE money if the company does not do well. It can be risky (p. 19). Would you put some of your money into the stock market? Why or why not? 
  4. The narrator’s grandma ends the book by saying, “You know dear, Grandpa always said, take care of your tools and they’ll take care of you.” What do you think she means by this? Did he follow this advice? What happened as a result? 

Non-Fiction/Informational Selection

Show Me the Money: How to Make Cents of Economics by Alvin Hall

Show Me The Money book cover

Money makes the world go round, but how well do children understand finances? Show Me The Money breaks the mold of the school textbook and introduces young readers to the world of economics—from the history of money to e-commerce. Divided into sections that focus on economics, business, personal finance, and the history of trade, Show Me The Money takes technical jargon and breaks it down with easy-to-understand text, diagrams, and illustrations making a formerly dry subject interesting and relevant. Updated to be in tuned with today’s culture of environmental and social awareness, Show Me The Money is a good investment for young people who want to learn about economics and the world around them.

Informational Sparks: Review the specified pages and ask the associated questions:

1. On pp. 52-53, four types of resources are described: natural, capital, human, and entrepreneurship. Let’s break down and identify the resources Lawn Boy used:

  • Natural resource (things from nature): gas & oil
  • Capital resource (equipment): mower (didn’t cost him anything, was a gift)
  • Human resource (people): Lawn Boy, people he hired, and Arnold
  • Entrepreneurship (ideas): The Lawn Business

2. Read pp. 54-55, “Man with a Plan…to Jam in Business.” At the top of p. 55, Mike has a good plan for his jam business. In the panel at the bottom of pp. 54-55, Mike learns lessons about how to price his jam, which illustrates the law of supply and demand (which is illustrated in detail on pp. 56-57). Was he successful with his first pricing idea? The second pricing idea? What worked? Are all plans perfect? Is it okay to make a mistake or fail? What do you learn from that?

3. Read pages 58-59. Explain the differences between a free market and a command economy. Which would you rather use? Why? How did a free market economy help Lawn Boy?

#EXPLORE: These simple classroom activities help to further connect students to the concept of economics that they learned from the books. 

  • I Can Be An Entrepreneur

Learning Outcomes Statement:

Students will be able to plan and develop entrepreneurial activities and calculate the profit and loss in a sales transaction.

Materials Needed:

All worksheets can be found on econedlink.org.

Notes for Introduction:

Introduce the lesson by telling the students that there are two basic ways to earn money. One way is to make or gather something that others are willing to buy. The something you make or gather is called a good. The other way is to do work that others are willing to pay you to do. This work is called a service. We are going to do what the narrator in Lawn Boy did. The difference is that we are going to put in some thought and plan what good/service we are going to sell to people in order to make money (remember, it just kind of happened to our narrator!). 

Ask students: Have you ever tried to sell a good or service to people outside your family — perhaps to friends or neighbors? If you have, you were probably an entrepreneur. The dictionary says an entrepreneur is, “A person who organizes and manages a business, assuming the risk for the sake of profit.” In short, an entrepreneur is a businessperson who does these things:

  • Sees an opportunity for making money
  • Makes a plan
  • Starts the business
  • Manages the business
  • Receives the profit

A business can be a big company that makes televisions or computers. A business can also be small company, such as a neighborhood grocery store or a soft drink stand at a local ball game. You are going to learn more about what entrepreneurs do and what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.

Encourage the students to think about age-appropriate entrepreneurial endeavors by displaying and discussing the slides in Twenty Money-Making Ideas Interactive Story. This information is also available in Twenty Money-Making Ideas for Young Persons (link to this PDF provided on website above). As an alternative, students can work one-on-one to explore the following resources about entrepreneurship:

Seven Ways Kids Can Earn Money

Kid Work

Group Activity

Print out and distribute the Jobs I Can Do to Earn Money activity sheet to each student (link to this PDF provided on website above). Place students in groups of 2-3. Have each group complete the activity sheet. Afterward, ask students the following questions:

  • What jobs did you choose to earn money?
  • Why do you think they will be successful?

Individual Activity

Have the students choose one money-making idea from the group activity. Prompt students with questions like:

  • Can this job actually earn them money?
  • If so, how much?

Have students calculate the potential revenue of a job or business. Distribute copies of Earning a Profit (link to this PDF provided on website above). Go over one example as a class and then have students complete the rest of the questions individually. Use the Earning a Profit Answer Key as a reference.

Questions for Feedback and Reflection: ask these questions to connect students to the concepts learned through the books and activities: 

  1. As we’ve learned in both books, an entrepreneur is someone who is able to sell a service and make a profit from it. As an entrepreneur, what business did you create? Would it be successful? Why or Why not?
  2. Most people who create a business have at least a basic plan. Is this a good thing? Why or why not? Let’s think about the narrator in Lawn Boy. Did he intend to start a business? Did he have a plan? How did he learn how to manage his business and his money? 
  3. In your business plan, what are the resources you would need to use:
    1. Natural resource (things from nature): 
    2. Capital resource (equipment): 
    3. Human resource (people): 
    4. Entrepreneurship (ideas): 
  4. What are some of the factors that make a business a success or failure? (Answers will vary, but include: bad idea/concept for business; no market demand for a good/service; no market expansion for good/service; limited resources, either natural or human; price point isn’t right to have a profit that will sustain the business; national economy is bad and people are careful about how they spend their money; etc.

#KEEP READING: Check out these books and resources for more on this topic:

 

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