The Student Economist
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
- Observe and analyze consumer behavior
- Study economic trends in the classroom economy
- Report economic developments to the class
- Review and apply all previously learned economic principles
- Copy of the Economist Report (PDF)
- Copy of the Money Spent Log (PDF)
- Desktop or laptop computer (optional)
Set Up and Prepare
Day 1 (Day Before Students Shop):
- Write the definition of "economist" on the board: a social scientist concerned with the consumption of goods and services.
- Explain to students that the class will now have a student economist each week. Ask students to suggest what they think this person will do, based on the definition.
- Pass out a copy of the Economist Report (PDF) to every student in the class, or place it on an overhead projector so that every student can see it.
- Discuss each section of the report and choose one student to be the student economist for the next shopping day. (You may want to create a rotation schedule for this job so every student has the chance to be the economist.)
Day 2 (Day of Shopping):
- Give the chosen student economist a clipboard with a copy of the Economist Report (PDF). Instruct this student to complete the report as he or she watches students shop.
- Print a copy of the Money Spent Log (PDF). The cashier will use this to record how much each student spends and will give it to the economist when the store closes.
- After all students have shopped, the student economist will use the Money Spent Log (PDF) to calculate the total amount of money spent. The total should be recorded on the Economist Report worksheet.
- The student economist should use the information he or she collected while observing consumers at the store to give an oral report back to the class on the "state of the economy." (You may choose to have the student economist do this the following day so the report can be finished at home.)
- Continue to choose a student economist to observe the store each time it is open and give a report to the class. This will ensure that students are continuing to use economic terms and that the store continues to be a means of ongoing economic education.
Supporting All Learners
Some students will require close monitoring by the teacher when acting as student economist for the first time. You may even choose to have students work as co-economists so they can write the economist report together.
After recording students' earnings each week on a Student Earnings Log (PDF), the student economist can graph the amount each week on a Student Earnings Graph (PDF). This will help the student economist to further track the state of the classroom economy. This graph can be posted in the classroom and updated after each pay period. The teacher and students can even use it to monitor inflation. See an example of a Completed Student Earnings Graph (PDF).
I encourage the student economist to take the economic report home so that he or she can work on writing and reciting an oral report with his or her parents. This also gives parents the opportunity to see how their children are examining economic principles at school.
- The student economist must complete the Economist Report (PDF).
- The student economist must use the information on the written report to give an oral report to the class.
- Are your students beginning to think like economists?
- Are your chosen economists able to effectively report the economic trends back to their classmates?
- Are there things you think should be added to or deleted from the Economist Report?
- Are your students continuing to use the economic terms they have learned?
Economic reports can be assessed for thoroughness, accuracy, and effort. Teachers may also choose to evaluate students' public speaking when the student economists give their economic reports back to the class.