Back to School with Bite-Sized Economics

With the summer winding down we’ve turned to getting ready for the new school year, and you probably are, too.  To help get the ball rolling with your economics classes, we’ve compiled a short list of “Bite-Sized Economics” activities and discussions that can be easily integrated into the classroom.  They come from our colleagues at the Kansas City Fed (see more of their educational resources here).


Concept to teach:  Entrepreneur
One who takes a risk by producing a product or starting a new business

Bite-sized ideas:

  1. As entrepreneurs invent new products, they often make former products obsolete, or out of date and no longer used. An example of this would be the typewriter, which is now rare because of computer word processing. This concept is called “creative destruction.” Ask students to brainstorm and discuss other examples of creative destruction due to new inventions.
  2. After discussing entrepreneurship, ask students to interview an entrepreneur in their community. Interview questions could include: describing their business; explaining how they financed their venture; discussing any challenges in their business; and describing a typical work day. Share completed interviews with the class. (via)

Concept to teach: Resources
Things used to make goods and services

Bite-sized idea:

Focus on and discuss human capital: the skills, talents and education that people possess. Discuss how improving human capital through education and training correlates with increasing income. Ask students to research and share education levels and average income of chosen careers by going to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. (via)

Concept to teach:  Cost vs Benefit
Loss or gain because of an action taken or decision made

Bite-sized idea:

Discuss the costs and benefits, both monetary and nonmonetary, of having a public school system. Research what it costs taxpayers per year for a student to attend public school, using your state department of education website. What are the benefits of public education? Are there any costs? What are the benefits to taxpayers that make them willing to share the costs? (via)

Concept to teach: Opportunity Cost
The next best choice that you give up

Bite-sized ideas:

  1. Discuss homecoming expense choices and opportunity costs. For example, with a limited amount of money, would you choose a fancy limo for transportation? Would you spend more money for a high-dollar outfit instead? Or would you spend your dollars on an expensive restaurant meal before the dance? Discuss the reasoning behind your decisions.
  2. Have students determine the meaning of this statement” An opportunity cost is an opportunity lost. Report out and discuss small group determinations with the larger group. (via)

What “bite-sized” lessons or discussions have you successfully used with your students? Share below.

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