Economic Things

Introduction to Economics

In this Introduction to Economics unit students will learn about scarcity, cost-benefit analysis, opportunity cost, marginal thinking, human capital, economic decision making and more through a series of interactive, story-driven activities. It culminates in an escape room activity where students  use their knowledge of "Economic Things" to fight off the Mind Flayer!

Unit Guide

Economic Things Unit Guide - 60 pages of summaries, lesson plans and commentary on the activities. This took a ton of work, but has been very well received, so I hope it helps!

PowerPoint Presentations

While these presentations will technically function in Google Slides, they won't work well. Download the file as a PowerPoint and run it from your Desktop for best results!

Lessons and Activities

Road Trip! - Students plan a post-graduation road trip and experience economic thinking concepts along the way.

EA: Scarcity and the Budget - a short, annotated reading where students consider how scarcity is not just a personal problem.

TCI Econ Alive! Reading Guide - Lesson 1 - very boring reading comprehension questions since Econ Alive! doesn't come with them. Use sparingly and at your own risk.

Economic Decision Making - Explore how to make decisions like an economist using scenes from Batman, Spiderman and... Devi? 

Incentives Featuring Freakonomics - Students analyze how incentives function using segments from both the book and movie versions of Freakonomics.

Economic Inquiry 1: To Build or Not to Build? -  (adapted from - Examine the costs and benefits of publicly funded sports stadiums.

Behavioral Economics: Human or Econ? - What if humans weren't completely rational beings? (Hint: We aren't.)

More Behavioral Econ (Peardeck) - A series of mini-activities using PearDeck to further show we may not be fully rational beings.

History x Econ: The Lowell Mill Girls - An inquiry-based activity where students consider the decision-making that drove young girls to work in factories in the 1800s and compare it to issues of child labor today.

Economic Mysteries - (adapted from 3 mysteries of the world explained by economics!

Eco-Nomics: The Water Crisis - Use Economic Decision Making and marginal analysis to solve California's water crisis!

Human Capital Inventory Featuring Pixar's Soul - Soul is an amazing movie. Use it to guide students to finding the value of their human capital.

Let's Play: Cards Against Human Capital - Students rate the human capital levels of various characters then draw cards to get bonus abilities. They then interview for the hottest jobs!

The Game of Life - Student Guide Sheet - (scarcity, opportunity cost, human capital) - Students make a monthly budget based on education and income levels determined by dice rolls. Teachers, present this Slides file while students follow along and complete this Sheet. 

EI 2: New or Used? - On the theme of personal budgeting, let's do some Economic Decision Making on what your first car should be.

Resumes - Students analyze some fun, fictional resumes to see how should we communicate our human capital to businesses (and how should we not.)

Escape from Scare City - Not bragging, but this is probably the best lesson I've ever made. Students play through a narrative-based escape room to based on Stranger Things. They loved it.

CYOA Learning Menu - a learning menu focused on the fundamentals of econ where students choose their project to demonstrate their learning from this unit.

Grid Game: Foundations of Econ Test - Unit assessment using hexagonal thinking (and a giant murderous doll of course.)


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Soul Runtime: 95 mins - Pixar's second greatest movie (after Inside Out obviously) is excellent for teaching human capital. Used with the human capital activity above. While I only show about 10 minutes of it, one could easily justify showing the entire movie. 

The Profit (S5, E5) Mr. Cory's Cookies Runtime: 42 mins - Really fun episode of The Profit where a single mother and her young son work to create a business. A great look at the power and importance of human capital! (Viewing Guide with Questions)

The Profit (S3, E1): SJC Drums Runtime: 42 mins - An episode of The Profit featuring a well-known drum maker that uses marginal analysis to create new products to keep their business going. (Also featuring reality show family drama!) (Viewing Guide with Questions)

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