Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: By George, I think I’ll Buy It!

Grade: 2 or 3
Class Time: 1 hr.

Guiding Questions: Have you ever won anything? Have you ever had to choose your own prize?
Students will be able to make choices by using decision making concepts taught in class.
Objectives: Students will be able to explain that when their wants exceed what is available to them, choices must be made. Students will be able to identify the opportunity cost of a choice. Students will define the opportunity cost of a decision as the greatest opportunity lost.
Core Competencies: Decision making, problem solving, counting
1. Begin lesson with the following questions: Have you ever won anything?
Have you ever had to choose your own prize?
2. Pretend that you have just found an envelope containing a winning notice for each student. Hand out the “Certificates of Award” calling each student’s name aloud. Read the certificate aloud to the class.
3. What do you think this is? How many toys did each of you win? (one) What kind of toys do you have to choose from? (choices are on the list)
4. After the class has heard of the enclosed list of toys, begin to look again into the envelope, examining it for the promised list. Distribute the List of Prizes to the class. Give the students some time to examine the list and get ideas in their heads as to what they can choose.
5. Ask students to circle any of the items on the list that they would like to have.
6. Discuss: How many toys did you circle? Can you keep all of them? (no) Why not? (Because the award is only worth one toy) What is our problem then? (We want more than we can actually have.) If you can only have one toy, what are each of you going to do? (Pick one/make a decision/make a choice)
7. Write the word choice on the board. Explain to the children that because we want more than we can actually have, it is necessary for us to make a choice.
8. Discover another hand-out in the envelope and tell the class that it’s a poem. Distribute “Toy Spree Dream” to each student and allow them to first read it silently and then reread it as a class.
9. Discuss: Is it going to be easy to narrow your list down to one toy? How do you suppose we could break down this list so that we can determine the one toy that you really want?
10. Instruct the students to write down the five most wanted toys on their list. They are to do this on the bottom of the List of Prizes” in the space provided. Ask the students to make their actual toy choice #1 on the list and their second toy choice #2 and so forth.
11. Use one of the student’s list as an example. Discuss: What did this person choose as their first toy choice? What would this person have chosen if she hadn’t selected this first choice? What did this person give up when he made toy #1 his first choice?
12. Explain that the one thing that this student gave up is called their “opportunity cost.” It is the greatest opportunity lost (or their second choice). Do this activity with several other students.
13. Ask students to get into groups of 2 or 3 and figure out what each student’s first choice was and what their opportunity cost was.
14. Conclude the lesson by reviewing with students why choices are made and how opportunity cost is determined.
Materials/Resources: “Certificate of Award” for each student, “Toy Spree Dream” (poem) for each student, list of prizes for each student, pens, pencils and crayons
Evaluation: Journal, class discussion.
Extensions: Have more able students work up lists of other opportunity costs.
Vocabulary: Goods and services, wants, limited resources, opportunity costs
Related Skills: Reading and writing, mathematics.
Source: Berry, Jason and Murphy, Carole (1995). Elem. Educ. 253, Social Studies Methods, Univ. of Mo., St. Louis.