Sadly, the formal study of economics is left out of most of the curricula I’ve run across in my 11+ years of homeschooling. An understanding of economics is EXTREMELY important as our children grow up to care for a family, learn to tithe and give, and become the financial leaders of our country.
Unless we took an economics course specifically in high school, or more likely college, I venture to say most Americans today don’t have more than a surface understanding of managing our own money – much less how the government officials (who are supposed to be accountable to their well-informed citizens) are managing our money in the larger scheme of things.
Is economics something that can only be understood and taught at the high school or college levels? No way! We should begin teaching economics principles as soon as our kids understand the worth of money.
And just how to we go about this? Homeschool Economics!
During the elementary years, we use literature to help us demonstrate some more formal economics concepts in a laid back way. I’ve shared about one of those lessons in this post about productive resources. We also try to plug in at least a few field trips that lend themselves to economics discussions – factories, a bank, a grocery store, farms, having a good conversations with any business owner. Really, just about any trip can be turned into an economics-themed trip – even a trip to a pioneer fort where you discuss trading goods.
In my quest to raise economically smart children, I’ve used many tools and come across others that are waiting in the wings for the right time. I’ve included all of them below. The * indicates those that are tried and true resources.
Skills Covered: reading, addition/multiplication, calculator skills, problem solving, charting data
The King’s Chessboard by David Birch is a fantastic book – both for math and character training. In it, the king foolishly agrees to doubling a gift of rice everyday for the number of days on a chessboard. Because he doesn’t know about the power of doubling, he loses A LOT of rice.
Reading the book is a great way to start off a lesson on the power of doubling.
After reading, ask your child, “What if I offer to pay you 2¢/day for doing the dishes every night for 20 days? How much money would you make?
(Hint: 2¢ x 20 days = 40¢. Yes, ONLY 40¢!)
Now ask, “What if I offer to pay you 2¢ the first day and double that each day for 10 days? Would it be worth it to you?”
(Hint: Make a chart like the one pictured above and allow your child to use a calculator to double the amount each day. Remember – on the 10th day, add each day’s wages together to get the total earned over 10 days.)
“Hmmm…You think $20+ is fairly worth your effort for 10 days, huh? Well, what if I continue doubling your money until 20 days are up? Would you care to dishes nightly then?”
(Hint: Keep doubling on the chart through 20 days. Again, add all the days wages together to get the total earned over 20 days.)
“Yes? Yes? You’d like to make that deal? Let me know when you find someone willing. We’ll both go to work for him!”
A Similar Lesson
You might be interested: We did a similar lesson a few years ago using another fabulous book, One Grain of Rice.
Better lesson organization is one of my main goals for the upcoming school year. Having a high school student, middle school student and a kindergartener, I have no choice but to be more organized – or feel flustered and fall behind too often like I did last year when I was less prepared.
I have a newly organized planning notebook for myself and both of the big kids have their own weekly binder. Besides organization, the binders are going to help the kiddos work towards more work independence and responsibility. I’m so excited about these!
Middle and High School Binders
The pocket pouch holds a highlighter, pencils, erasers and a pencil sharpener. Only the necessities for those times when they take school somewhere other than the school room.
Left: Weekly Chore Chart and Typical Daily Schedule
Right: Weekly Assignment Sheet
These pages will be the main stop daily. The kids will make sure their daily chores have been completed and then move on to the lessons assigned. Using the typical weekly schedule in my notebook (below), I will jot down daily assignments a week at a time. Any reproducibles or worksheets that apply to particular lessons will be placed in the appropriate day’s pocket (again, below.) As an assignment is completed, the kids will highlight it on the lesson plan sheet and place completed work in a pocket at the back of the binder. At the end of the day (or week), I will grade what needs to be graded and file away the completed work.
We read a lot around here, but the necessary, assigned books don’t always get the attention they deserve. The kids either lose interest and don’t finish the books, or they drag on way too long. The reading log will help solve that problem. Not only will the kids jot down books they read for fun, but this chart allows us to set a due date and plan out how many pages or chapters will need to be read daily to meet the due date.
Service Project Log
The service project log won’t be in the middle school binder. I wanted Mahayla, the high schooler, to have a place to keep records of all the community service she does for the purpose of completing a transcript or portfolio as she plans for college in the next couple of years.
Grade Recording Sheet
I haven’t always kept grades, and I’m not promising I’ll go overboard this year. However, for better accountability, I’m planning to be better about keeping a grade book. I found this grade sheet from PrintableHomeschool.com.
Left: High School Transcript (Obviously, this won’t be in the middle school journal either.)
Right: College-Bound High School Requirements
The high school transcript and requirements sheets are simply there to keep Mahayla completely “in the know” about what she needs to accomplish and what she has already accomplished for a college-bound education. (I use HomeschooTranscripts.com to keep track of it all.)
Daily Assignment Pockets
There are six pocket dividers in the back of the book. One for each day of the week, and one for completed work. As I make lessons plans for the week ahead, I’ll put in any pull-out worksheets or reproducibles that I’m able and place them in the appropriate day’s pocket. For lessons that can’t be placed in the pockets, I’ll jot down page numbers for the kids so everyone knows exactly what work to do. Beside their desks, each of them have a crate that houses all their textbooks and workbooks, so they will always know where to find their work.
The things we do together – like Bible, for instance – we typically do at the very beginning of school or the very end. That way the individual work can be completed as independently as possible. That’s the goal this year for one of my sweet children…need mom less. I’m just sure these binders are going to help with independence (as well as organization.)
Eli won’t have a binder, but we will implement a chore board and workbox for him to begin teaching him some independence and responsibility.
His chore board is simply a set of preschool chore cards (from Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations) pinned to a small cork board. I will move the day’s particular chores to the top of the board and he will move them to the bottom once completed.
His workbox is just a big ol’ crate where I will place the supplies for his school day. We’ll explore the crate together to decide what he can do by himself and what we will work on together. As activities are completed, papers will be put in a special Eli spot and other supplies will be put away.
Mom’s Planning Binder
My pocket pouch holds a few pencils and a pencil sharpener so I don’t have to search the house for supplies when it’s time to plan.
Having an up-to-date calendar in my planning binder is of utmost importance! It helps me know how to schedule the coming days as I take into consideration things like appointments and field trips.
Left: Official Documents
Right: Curriculum Lists
The pocket divider on the left holds official documents – a copy of my letter to the board of education and anything else I deem important. Page protectors hold lists of each child’s curriculum (copied from my blog post.) I use the curriculum lists as reference for myself when planning and then file them away in end-of-the-year portfolios as a record of what curriculum was used.
Mahayla will be taking a chemistry lab on Mondays at co-op and trying to fit bookwork into T-W-Th. To make sure we cover everything, I jotted down pages that needed to be covered daily. We likely won’t stick to this year-at-a-glance plan perfectly, but having the lessons broken down into manageable bites will keep us on track to completion by the end of the year.
Friday Idea Lists
Fridays will be a little different than the rest of the week. On the first Friday of the month, we’ll go somewhere for a nature walk. The second Friday we’ll go on a field trip. The third Friday we’ll dedicate the day to art and artist study. And the fourth Friday we’ll head out for service projects. So that I’m not scrambling each Friday to figure out where we’re going or what we’re doing, I’ve created some idea lists for service projects (with contact numbers/emails), field trips and nature walks.
Left: Mahayla’s Typical Weekly Assignment Plan
Right: A Stack of Mahayla’s Lesson Plan Sheets to Fill Out Weekly and Place in Her Binder
Left: Caleb’s Typical Weekly Assignment Plan
Right: A Stack of Caleb’s Lesson Plan Sheets to Fill Out Weekly and Place in His Binder
Left: Eli’s Typical Weekly Assignment Plan
Right: A Stack of Eli’s Lesson Plan Sheets to Fill Out Weekly (I will keep this in my binder for my reference only and use it to fill up his workbox daily.)
Some of you have asked for a copy of my weekly lesson forms. I have included one of them as a Word doc that you can edit. It’s really nothing more than creating a table in Word and changing fonts and colors to make it pretty.
Most of you know we only do Saxon math three days a week. The other two days of math time are spent doing living math, logic, critical thinking activities and/or math games. Over nine weeks of last semester, one day a week was spent with Mahayla (7th grade) doing the lessons from a Prufrock Press book called Moving Through Dimensions. It a very hands-on, out of the text book approach to teaching 3-dimensional geometry concepts. Take a look at some of the fun we had together.
For a homeschooling family, it’s kind of expensive at nearly $40.00. (I got it free for review.) But Mahayla (and I) learned a lot – and both of us loved the hands-on, critical thinking approach. One of the neatest things we learned was how to transfer 3-dimensional objects into 2-dimensional drawings and vice-versa. I was also amazed at how simple very in-depth concepts became after the explanations and activities. Hey, even I understand polycubes and Sierpinski Triangles now! Even though the learning was from a text of sorts, I still consider the lessons to be living math. We were learning skills and doing projects that will easily translate into real world tasks.
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