Literature Helps to Teach Economic Concepts

Scarcity?  Opportunity Cost?  Goods and Services?  Natural and capital resources?  Teaching financial literacy to elementary students is a “Where do I begin?” situation.  It’s a vocabulary nightmare, but I found a way to make it less painful for me and the students.  I use literature to help me discuss these terms – the students love the stories, learn key economic concepts and can apply what they learned.  That’s the best part!

The following books are great resources to explain production, consumer and producer to your students.  Your students probably drink milk at almost every meal.  To help them understand the process of production, I recommend the book The Milk Makers by Gail Gibbons.  Cows eat special feed to make good milk.  But after the cow is milked, there are still many steps the milk must go through before it reaches you, the consumer.  This book describes them all.  After reading this book, you’ll be surprised to find how many other things you eat and drink that come from milk.
Another great book is Extra Cheese, Please! Mozzarella’s Journey From Cow to Pizza by Cris Peterson.  This book documents the cheese-making process starting on the family farm where milking begins, then moving to the cheese-making plant where the milk is heated and cooled, stirred and swirled, thickened, drained and sliced – and finally packaged for stores.  This picture book helps students understand production, producer and consumer as the reader go into the barn, onto the tank truck, and through the elaborate process of making cheese at the factory.

Processing Assignment: Have your students create a flow chart showing the production of the cheese used on pizza.  Tell them they need to use the word production in the flow chart title and producer and consumer in the flow chart.  Have your students share their flow charts with the class.  Then, display for all to enjoy!

Just for you – I’ve attached one of my favorite TCI lessons from Social Studies Alive! Our Community and Beyond. It’s called How Does Our Economy Work?

Lesson Guide and Lesson Masters

Student Edition and Notebook

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