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Money Education for 2nd Graders

Here are the financial principles and money lesson plans for 2nd grade students that you should be teaching!

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As an educator of 2nd-grade students, you know how vital this year is to their academic future. Early elementary years are critical to giving kids a comprehensive and rich background of all topics, and financial literacy is no exception. The exciting thing about money education is linking it to many other subjects, including math, ELA, social studies, and music. If you are a teacher or homeschooler struggling to decide what to cover in this 2nd-grade year, you are in luck! This guide will walk you through the recommended topics that all 2nd-graders should know by the time they leave you for the next grade: opportunity cost, natural resources, human resources, capital resources, currency, price, and income. You will also see how to teach these concepts, and we will include a high-quality lesson plan for each topic to help you on your way. Let’s take a closer look!

Opportunity Cost

Kids may know the idea of “FOMA” or fear of missing out. It can be challenging to decide between two fun options because you may choose the wrong one: for example, half of your friends want to go to the beach, and the other half want to go to the park. When you choose one over the other, you may miss out on the excitement that happened. You can apply this idea to financial education with your students, showing them that by spending on one thing, you sacrifice the ability to buy something else. This factor is a normal part of money management, and adults deal with it all the time, choosing whether to invest in stocks, buy that new outfit, or save for a car.

You can teach the concept of opportunity cost in many ways, including:

  • Have students get in small groups or pairs. Give them a selection of places to go through, and tell them they can only choose one. Have them list all the fun things they can do in that place, whether it is a ball game, an amusement park, the mountains, or the lake. With their partners, they can discuss why they chose their place and their activities, but then listen to what they missed out on by selecting their location. As a follow-up, you can describe how this is called opportunity cost, and they will need to make these crucial decisions with their money later in life.
2nd Grade Lesson Plan #1

Opportunity Cost

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Natural Resources

Natural resources are things that occur in nature in a specific location. These resources can be trees, oil, certain elements and metals, and land. You can teach kids that pretty much everything they buy comes from these prizes of nature and that companies and individuals use these raw materials for economic gain. The scarcity and value of these factors of production will affect product costs and supply, which you can touch on with your students.

You can approach the topic of natural resources with a wealth of online materials. You will find lots of activities, including:

  • Tell students to research various natural resources. They can cut out magazine pictures, print out photos, and more, creating a poster about their chosen resource. Ask children to think about what kinds of products and services can be made from these materials, whether these resources are limited or renewable, and what alternatives they can come up with to keep production going forward. Students can present their findings to the class, solidifying their understanding of this economic concept while improving their speaking and organizational skills.
2nd Grade Lesson Plan #2

Natural Resources

Human Resources

As your 2nd-graders deepen their understanding of these financial ideas, you can move into the topic of human resources. You can explain that human resources are workers, the people that go to work, get the job done, and receive a paycheck as a reward for their labor. Teachers can show how products would never exist without this critical factor of production and that people contribute mental and physical effort into maximizing profit and productivity.

You can get into this idea with different avenues. One way to activate students’ prior knowledge and help them understand some of these more advanced concepts include:

  • Focus on careers. Let your students choose between different jobs and make a report with pictures and drawings. They will see how these jobs fit into the overall picture of human resources, including the required skills, duties, and challenges of various positions. Have them figure out which goods and services their career contributes to society, helping them link how their roles work in economies.
2nd Grade Lesson Plan #3

Human Resources

Capital Resources

You can explain that capital resources are goods made to produce other goods and services. Some examples of these man-made resources are machines, tools, money, and buildings, which people can use to create products. You can show them how people need these basics to run their businesses, fit them into various work locations, and how they use capital resources. Different industries and workplaces use various capital resources, but they share the reality that they all need these items to succeed.

Teachers will find many resources that can help them teach the topic of capital resources. You will notice unique methods to show your 2nd-graders how this idea works in real life, including:

  • Tell students that they will choose one of the pictures of businesses you put out on a table, including bakeries, nurseries, and office supply companies. You can explain that each business has its own needs and materials to make them thrive. Once kids have chosen a business, have them go through a pre-made photo book of these companies’ different capital resources. For example, if they choose a bakery, they would find capital resources such as mixers, ovens, pans, spatulas, cookie cutters, muffin tins, and other baking-specific items.
2nd Grade Lesson Plan #4

Capital Resources

Currency

Teachers can explain that currency is the paper money that different countries use. These currencies have different values relative to each other, and you will find various denominations of money in currency systems. For 2nd-graders, it is often best to focus on our currency in the United States, but it can also be fun to look at the many currencies around the world to learn about other countries. Teachers can get into the many bills we have in our system, the symbols and pictures, the slogans you may find on our currency, and the reasons behind them.

Exploring currencies is exciting for 2nd-graders because they get to handle money and see how it all works. There are many math activities that you can incorporate into your classroom, such as:

  • Kids can count money. You can teach your students about bills and coins, showing them the different values, and have them make change for a dollar with virtual “purchases.” You will find many arithmetic-based activities, giving your students hands-on experience, so they get a feel for our currency.
2nd Grade Lesson Plan #5

Currency

Price

2nd-graders are likely familiar with prices and have a basic understanding of what they mean. You could explain that price is the amount of money people pay for products, goods, or services. Many factors influence why things cost more or less than others, but you can benefit students in 2nd-grade by showing them the cost of items they will deal with regularly.

Students can learn about price in many formats, whether teachers want to use worksheets, videos, interactive websites (or even field trips to the grocery store). You can:

  • Develop a class store. You can list items for sale with price tags attached, and students can use play money to buy the things they want. They will get a deep understanding of money and see how prices affect their budget and money supply, and you can introduce the benefit of earning money and finding reasonable prices.
2nd Grade Lesson Plan #6

Price

Income

Teachers can introduce the topic of income to your 2nd-graders to show them the power of making money. You can explain that different jobs pay different amounts and that if you work more hours than someone in the same position, you will likely have a higher income. Kids begin to see that work equals money and that they can use that money to buy goods and services as a result. There are many sources of income, and kids can start realizing it early through allowances or selling trinkets, lemonade, or cookies.

This unit is often a blast for 2nd-graders because they experience what it is like to bring in an income. You can do this through many activities like:

  • Have students come up with a simple business idea. It may be a lemonade stand, car wash, or a candy shop. You can have them set prices on their products, explain that they will need to pay for business expenses and see how much income they may make. Kids can learn how basic advertising works, how pricing affects demand, and many more economic concepts that you can adapt to a 2nd-grade level.
2nd Grade Lesson Plan #7

Income

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About the Author

Peter Brown

Peter Brown is a National Board Certified teacher with over two decades of experience in the classroom. He loves working with students of all ages in many subjects, but particularly in practical areas like money education, to help kids achieve their goals. When he is not teaching or writing about financial literacy, you can find him surfing, hiking, skiing, or traveling to new places.

Last updated on: May 14, 2022