I Am In A Pickle

Grades: 3 to 6
Class Time: I hr.

Focus: Students will relate opportunity cost to non-economic issues.
Outcome: Students will understand that opportunity cost applies to more than purchasing decisions.
Objective: After discussing economic and non-economic opportunity costs, the students will be able to write a story of how this has affected them personally. Can use “I Am In A Pickle” sheet from Scott, Foresman and Company.
Core Competencies: Sharing earth-space with others: the community.
1. Have students discuss personal experiences in which opportunity cost has affected them. Students should be able to define and use the term “opportunity cost.” Opportunity costs are the greatest opportunity loss. For example, suppose you have one dollar. There are five different items that cost one dollar each. Rank the five items from your first choice to the fifth choice. The opportunity cost of purchasing your first choice is the value to you of the second choice.
2. Set up a simulation in which students want 5 items but only have enough money to buy 3.
3. In groups of 4 allow students to decide on solutions for selecting the 3 items they wish to buy. What determines the opportunity cost?
4. Discuss non-economic dilemmas, such as two friends asking a student to go to two different, but equally, attractive places the same day. How would they decide on which one to choose?
Materials/Resources: “I Am In A Pickle” worksheet from More Than Money, by Lorene Renie Lenning (1990), Scott, Foresman and Company.
Evaluation: Check worksheet or assigned writing for understanding of concepts discussed during the lesson.
Extensions: Have students come up with alternative writings and evaluations.
Vocabulary: Non-economic, dilemma, opportunity cost
Related Skills: The students should have previous experience with economic concepts such as needs and wants, scarcity and shortages, goods and services.
References: Lenning, Lorene R. (1990). More Than Money – An Activities Approach to Economics. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, and Company.
Source: Edwards, Cindy and Murphy, Carole (1995). Elem. Educ. 253, Social Studies Methods, Univ. of Mo., St. Louis.