Middle School Economics Bundle: Checks, Budgets, Stocks, College, and Savings!

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Middle School Economics. When I first started teaching I remember thinking, “How am I going to get kids excited about economics?” Then it hit me – make it about them! Included in this bundle are five activities I’ve done with my middle school students that are a hit every time. I hope you find the same to be true with your students too. Here’s what you’re getting in this bundle:


The Economics of Balancing a Budget – Calculating Budgets with Monthly Incomes
Think your students know how much money it costs to have the things they have at home? If you teach Economics at the middle level or high school level then this is an activity that really opens the eyes of your students to the reality of budgeting their money.

In this activity students will practice calculating a budget using different monthly incomes with arbitrary percentages for expenses to figure out if someone with a certain monthly income will be at a surplus or shortage at the end of the month.

Students will then take part in a dice rolling activity (you provide the dice) to let fate decide for them what their monthly income will be for this activity. I usually have students come up one at a time and roll the dice under my document camera for the class to see. It hooks them because they want to see who gets the most money. Students will have to then calculate a monthly budget for the amount they rolled for, assess the information they've recorded, and make adjustments to balance their surplus or shortage to zero dollars.

Depending on the needs of your students you could also have your students partner up with someone so they can help each other by double checking their answers with each other and figuring out the calculations together. I've done this before and it has often helped the students who struggle with math. I always tell my students, "If you can push buttons on a calculator you can do this activity."

It usually takes me 2 to 3 days to do this activity with my students if I have them complete the extension activities as well. Look through it and do what is best for you and the students you teach.

There are also extension activities provided if you have time for students to figure out how much they can afford for a house and a car using standard formulas for such purchases. Then they actually have to find a house (or houses) and a vehicle (or vehicles) they can afford on their income. I would usually bring in free automobile sales magazines and free real estate magazines from the grocery store for kids to look through and cut pictures out of.

This is a great introductory activity for students because in my 15 years teaching middle school I can tell you that most students start asking money questions after doing this activity. They are curious about how much money someone makes at the job they are thinking about doing someday. They start to ask questions about saving for retirement, how the stock market works, and how banks work. I absolutely love this activity and I hope you and your students do too.


The Economics of Checks – Packet of Check Writing for Introductory Economics
This check writing packet will give students practice writing checks and recording their payments and deposits in a check register. Students read a story that takes them through a crazy day of writing six checks and making two deposits. They should end up with $5.00 left when they are done. The story, blank checks, check register, and answer key is provided with this purchase.

When I do this activity I usually print out two sets of blank checks for students. One for them to practice writing sample checks such as, "Write a check on May 10, 2014 to your school for $12.00 for a school T-shirt. How would you do that? What would it look like?" I let students try, then show them how I would write one on the overhead projector. I show them how to write the number in the amount as close as possible to the left edge so no one could add a number in there; thus changing a $47.00 check to $847.00. I also show them why to add a line after who you write the check out to so it doesn't end up as, "To: SOUTH MIDDLE SCHOOL or Your Social Studies Teacher." If the line is there it makes it harder for someone to alter the check.

When I teach this activity I tell students my one goal is that they protect themselves from ever getting ripped off. I also show them my own check card and how on the back I don't have my name signed. Instead I have "See I.D." I let them know that not even 5% of cashiers ever ask to see my identification. So I always ask the cashier, "How do you know this is my check card?" Many of my students will have jobs in high school as cashiers so it helps them be aware of identity theft early on.

Kids like this activity a lot, and they are usually very excited to find out if they got it right at the end.


The Economics of College – Is a Degree Worth It?
I use this product every year with my 8th grade students near the end of the year when they are about to embark on their journey to high school. Many of them are on the fence about school or simply don't see the value in their education. Their eyes are opened pretty quick when they see how much money they are giving up by not pursuing an education, or worse, by choosing to drop out of high school.

This activity has students doing math that directly applies to their future. Students will calculate how much money, according the U.S. Census, a person makes at varying levels of education. Those levels are:

-Not Graduating High School
-High School Graduate
-Some College - No Degree
-Associate Degree
-Bachelor's Degree
-Master's Degree
-Doctorate
-Professional Degree

For each level, students will find out the average lifetime income, the hourly rate, and the difference of income based on the different levels of education for American males and females.

This activity has always worked well for me in encouraging students to do their best in school -- their financial future depends on it!


The Economics of Saving Your Money - Piggy Banks, Simple & Compound Interest
I love teaching Economics to my middle school students because it directly relates to their lives. I teach 8th grade, and most of the students I teach save their dollars or coins in some form of a "piggy bank," some have a savings account, and some haven't had anyone show them how to get a savings account at a bank.

In this product, students will begin to understand the power on interest. They will be guided through three different scenarios of a girl named Marcy who is given $100. Your students job will be to figure out how much money Marcy would make by putting that $100 in a piggy bank for 10 years, a savings account earning simple interest for 10 years, and a savings account earning compound interest for 10 years. An answer key is provided for ease of instruction.

An extension activity is also provided in this product where your students are given $500 for their high school graduation. Your students can see what the power of compound interest will be if they don't touch that $500 for 40 years as well as if they add $500 to that account every year for 40 years. An answer key is provided for this activity as well so that your students can check in with you every so often to make sure they are on the right track if you so choose.

Many times after doing this activity students will say that they've asked their parents if they can go to the bank and open a savings account!


The Economics of the Stock Market – Fun Class Investing Contest!
This Stock Market investment activity uses the NASDAQ American Stock Exchange web site and has never failed me in getting even the most reluctant students to participate! If you are looking for a great activity to keep your students active and engaged this one hasn't failed me yet.

Each student is given "$50,000" and has to invest in 10 different corporations. This activity is done in "real-time" and truly helps them make connections to the economy they are a part of. You can decide how long you would like the activity to last or modify the lesson in any way you feel meets your classroom needs. I usually do this activity for 3 days. One introduction day, one purchasing day, and one selling day on the last day of school. I have 7th and 8th graders and they love it!

I've done this activity where we start this activity during the first week of school, half-way through the year, at the beginning of a new quarter or even just as a three week activity. Lately I've been starting this activity before we get into the Great Depression portion of our history class.

I have included VERY detailed instructions for you to follow in case you don't have the strongest background with technology.

To have this activity work successfully you need to:

1. Have access to a computer lab
2. Save the file in a location where students can access it
3. Have students save the file via own flash drive or network folder

I recommend trying this activity for yourself first so you can help assist students when it is time for them to participate in the activity.


Check out my other Economics products:

Career Research Packet
Economics Bundle Pack - Stocks, Cost/Benefit, & 2 Invention Projects
Opportunity Cost and Benefit Packet
Famous Inventors and Their Inventions Presentation

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Middle School Economics Bundle: Checks, Budgets, Stocks, C
Middle School Economics Bundle: Checks, Budgets, Stocks, C
Middle School Economics Bundle: Checks, Budgets, Stocks, C
Middle School Economics Bundle: Checks, Budgets, Stocks, C