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Thursday, January 29, 2015

When I first started teaching middle school economics I remember thinking, “How am I going to get kids excited about economics?”  Then it hit me – make it about them!  Included in this bundle are five activities (totaling 63 pagesI've done with my middle school students that are a hit every time.  I take students through these five activities in the order below, but you could definitely go in your own order to meet the needs of your own students.

Since many students start savings accounts by the time they get to high school or during their high school career I use this activity as a way for students to see the power that compound interest can have in their life with their money.  Students will work through three scenarios that show them how much they could gain or lose by putting their money in a piggy bank vs. a bank account that offers simple interest vs. a bank account that offers compound interest.  

Even though you don’t see people writing checks as much as they used to due to check cards and online banking, I still teach students what it used to be like and what the programs that calculate their check register are actually doing for them once they get their own checking account when they are in high school.  Students follow a story I wrote called, "A Day in the Life of Your Checkbook" and write 6 checks and make 2 deposits throughout the story to hopefully end up with $5.00 in their check register when they are done.    

Since the next step a student will take in life is deciding if they are going to go to college after high school to further their education.  Students will be guided through many different scenarios regarding how much money they would make on average if they get a two-year degree, a four-year degree, a master's degree, a Ph.D, as well as if they choose not to graduate from high school.  

Students will then take part in a dice rolling activity (you provide the dice) to let fate decide for them what their monthly income will be for this activity. I usually have students come up one at a time and roll the dice under my document camera for the class to see. It hooks them because they want to see who gets the most money. Students will have to then calculate a monthly budget for the amount they rolled for, assess the information they've recorded, and make adjustments to balance their surplus or shortage to zero. 

There are also extension activities provided if you have time for students to figure out how much they can afford for a house and a car using standard formulas that are provided for such purchases. Then your students actually have to find a house (or houses) and a vehicle (or vehicles) they can afford on their income. I would usually bring in free automobile sales magazines and free real estate magazines from the grocery store and their eyes are really opened when they see how much houses and cars cost. 

 The Economics of Investing:
I've never had a student not participate in this activity.  Each student is given "$50,000" and we have a friendly class competition to see how ends up as the best investor.  Students have to invest in 10 different corporations. This activity is done in "real-time" using the NASDAQ web site as well as a Microsoft Excel file I have created that calculates their stock purchases as they are entered.  This activity truly helps students make connections to the economy they are a part of.  You can decide how long you would like the activity to last or modify the lesson in any way you feel meets your classroom needs. I usually do this activity for 3 days of the last quarter. One introduction day, one purchasing day, and one selling day on the last day of the quarter store for kids see how much they've made or lost over the past 9 weeks.  Many kids will even put their stock picks into an app on their phone so they can see how their stocks are doing for the day.  You'll love it and so will they!!

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