As elementary school teachers every minute of the school day is precious. We have so many standards to meet from September to June. Any chance we get it’s important to combine literacy learning into the content areas of social studies and science. My favorite way to do this is through my interactive read aloud time. I try to choose books that include content specific vocabulary that will aid to students learning. Along with our character trait word of the week, students in my classroom learn 1-2 social studies terms each week as well.
One of my favorite fourth grade social studies units to teach is economics. Not only are there oodles of vocabulary terms, but the kids LOVE to learn about how money works. Our society has created creatures who are most motivated by money. Although it is sad that nine year olds love money so much, it’s important to teach them all of the choices we have as both producers and consumers. Consumers all over the world make hundreds of decisions each day about products that they use and sell.
A great book to use for both character development and economics vocabulary is The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davis. This book is about a brother Evan and his sister Jessie who don’t always see eye to eye. They set up competing lemonade stands in their neighborhood. Every chapter is named after an economics themed term. Along with the term, comes the part of speech and the definition. Davis does a great job incorporating economics and math conversation between the characters as well.
So, how did I fully incorporate this into my already busy day of teaching?
- First, I typed up all of the economics terms and printed them on green card stock (a different color than other words on our word wall). On the back of each word I put the definition and an example from the story.
- Next, I found a great resource for only $1 on Teachers Pay Teachers by E is for Explore. Although I am usually against novel packets, this resource has a great glossary chart for the kids to fill in, plus extra activities to do with each chapter – related to both the vocabulary word and the characters. My students really enjoyed it.
- I dedicated three Morning Meetings (15 minutes each) a week themed around The Lemonade War vocabulary learning and interactive read aloud. Students really looked forward to these days and would often ask for bonus read aloud time.
- Lastly, towards the end of the book students worked in partners to create a product that they would want to sell someday. We used the terms from The Lemonade War and tips from the characters to advertise their product. They created brochures to pass out to their friends and a commercial using our school’s green screen. It was so much fun to make their learning from this book come alive!
** The Lemonade War is best for grades 3-5**
Alongside The Lemonade War I always read aloud economics themed picture books too. Here is a list of some of my favorites with the related economics concept:
- When You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff: Needs vs. Wants
- Something Good by Robert Munsch: Needs vs. Wants
- A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams: Saving money
- Arthur’s Pet Business by Marc Brown: Money sense
- The Hard Times Jar by Ethel Footman Smothers: Scarcity
- Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts: Scarcity
- Mr. Belinsky’s Bagels by Ellen Schwartz: Markets, competition, opportunity cost
- Money Madness by David S. Adler: A world without money
- Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell: Opportunity cost
Let’s work together!!
What are some other great books you use to teach economics?
How do you incorporate vocabulary learning into your social studies curriculum?
Please comment and share!