Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Resource for Early Elementary

Earlier this year, I was involved in a reading program at the school where the Powell Center for Economic Literacy is located. I was reading stories to kindergarten students to introduce them to economic concepts.

That may sound like a tall order. But the book Apple Farmer Annie (see link in carousel at left) made it easy. And as school will soon start, and in many parts of the country early elementary students will be visiting nearby orchards, this is a good time to tell you about the book and offer some ideas for using it.

The book is simple enough. Annie is an apple farmer. The story tells about the things Annie does to raise and market her apples, including making cider, applesauce and apple pies.

The link to economics was easy. Before reading the story to the students, I first asked them about visiting an apple orchard. The students had visited an orchard the previous September, and all were able to recall many details of their trip.

As I read the story, I asked the students point to items in the book that they might have seen on their visit to the orchard. As Annie made applesauce, apple cider and apple pies in her kitchen, I asked them about making or having those products at home.

The illustrations were helpful. As I talked with the students, I also introduced the ideas of human resources, natural resources, and capital resources - all of which are used in production. I would have students identify the human resources they saw (Annie), the natural resources they saw (apples, bees, trees), and capital resources (the tools on Annie's farm and in Annie's kitchen).

I chose not to introduce entrepreneurship in this exercise. It’s a harder concept for kindergarten students to grasp, and since Annie was both the human resource and the entrepreneur, I didn’t want to confuse them. Also, as I defined natural resources as products from nature used to make other things, I accepted answers of butter, flour and sugar as natural resources if the students could tell me why they were from nature.

If you teach early elementary and one of your activities is visiting a nearby orchard or farm (doesn't have to be restricted to apples), this might give you an introductory exercise or a capstone activity after the visit.

You can find a lesson plan to use with this book at the website of the Powell Center for Economic Literacy.

Please share your comments.

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