Let's Learn Economics!
The Ledger, Spring 1998
by Rena Heleniak, Davis Thayer Elementary School, Franklin,
There Are Many Ways to Teach Economics
With economics now appearing as one of the strands
in the Massachusetts Social Studies Frameworks, it is
important for all teachers to be aware of interesting
and exciting ways to integrate economics into their
curriculum. Educators are in agreement that economic
literacy is necessary for students to fulfill lifelong
roles as consumers, producers, and citizens.
Pupils in all grades clearly display one economic theory
of money - how to spend it. With that in mind, I accepted
the challenge of creating a curriculum within my fifth
grade classroom that would connect economics to language
arts, math, science, social studies, reading, music,
Utilizing programs such as Savings Makes "Cents"
(Office of the Massachusetts State Treasurer), Save
for America (U.S. Department of Education), and The
Money Story (U.S. Mint), all of which offer sample lessons,
I enthusiastically set out to create my economics unit.
I also discovered that the Federal Reserve had a wealth
of free resources available, as did the Center for Economic
Education at Bridgewater State College, which offered
free workshops and complimentary materials. (Editor's
Note: See Educators' Update for a listing of the Economic
Education Councils in New England.)
In my planning I was able to incorporate economics into
all of the disciplines taught in my classroom. I could
teach reading through the Tale of King Midas, science
through shining an old penny, probability through tossing
a coin and recording the results, and social studies
through a study of the U.S. Mint.
Because our school is a partner in a wonderful banking
program with Dean Cooperative Bank in Franklin, Massachusetts,
our students enjoy an opportunity to bank within their
own school each week. It provides a hands-on learning
experience to reinforce our classroom work in economics.
I have successfully integrated multiple-intelligence
approaches to learning into checking and savings units.
Students learn in a variety of different ways - linguistic,
mathematical, musical, kinesthetic, visual/spatial,
interpersonal, and intrapersonal. It's just a matter
of finding what works best for a particular student.
By tapping into the references and programs that are
now readily available, teachers can successfully offer
lessons in economics to students at any age level, and
the students will respond enthusiastically. As my students
enter the classroom in the morning they ask, "Are
we going to study money today?" And, of course,
the answer is yes!
The Money Story
United States Mint
Phone: (202) 283-2646
ask for Product #C19
Save for America
4095 173rd Place, SE
Bellevue, WA 98008
Phone: (425) 746-0331
Savings Makes "Cents"
attn: Lori Ford
Office of the State Treasurer
State House - Room 227
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: (617) 367-6900
If you would like to receive a free copy of Ms. Heleniak's
lesson plans on understanding check writing and savings
accounts, write to:
Bob Jabaily, Editor
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
P.O. Box 2076
Boston, MA 02210