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Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis | Type: lesson - children's literature
After reading and discussing a story about a family during the Great Depression,
students differentiate between goods, services, barter, and money. Students are led
through several rounds of a barter activity that incorporates math skills. Through this
activity, students learn about the difficulties of using barter to satisfy wants.
- Economics 1: Scarcity
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This lesson is a wonderful melt of History and Economics. Because you are teaching from a story about the Great Depression, you may need to do some background to get the kids up to speed on why they had to barter in the Great Depression. You will not only give them a great history lesson, but you also will stimulate some interest in banking and why the Federal Reserve system is so vital in our economy today. I was impressed with the comprehension questioning during the reading of the book. The book is wonderful and well written for the 3-6 grade group. I don't think that third graders will receive as much from the whole experience as the older intermediate children. The incorporation of Math into the lesson is also a plus. I loved the experience with bartering within the classroom. The organization of the whole experience, the tallying the kids will do, and the evaluating of the number of times they barter just enhances the lesson. I would probably add a discussion during their bartering experience about how satisfied they are with their trades. How does satisfaction influence our trading? The assessment is good. I like the opportunity to write about what happened and explain in their own words what this experience meant to them. The "Hot Potato" game would be a fun assessment. An additional activity might be to graph the results of the number of trades they made in the three experiences in the classroom. This would add another dimension to the Math part of the lesson. This lesson would be fun to teach and may take more than 90 minutes to complete.
I thought this lesson was great because it not only taught the economics concept of bartering, but it also taught about the Great Depression. The activity used to teach bartering will definitely help students remember what it is in their futures. The lesson mainly teaches about bartering, but it adds other economic concepts like income, goods, consumers, money, wants, and services as well. This lesson is one I would love to teach in my class.