Your 7th-grade students are in the thick of middle school: growing, learning, and developing more refined money management skills. Hopefully, they have a broad and diverse financial literacy background by now, with a good understanding of basic economic principles and theories. You can take them to another level in this grade, focusing on more specific aspects of money and looking in-depth into several topics. According to the World Book Learning Resources, 7th-graders should learn economic concepts through the lens of World Trade and Resources. You can approach this overarching theme in several ways: foundations of economics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, global economics, and personal finance. Teachers can get their 7th-grade students ready for the next grade and beyond by covering these ideas. Use this guide to see what you should go over this year, how to teach these concepts, and you’ll even find a ready-to-teach lesson plan for each topic!
National Standards for Personal Finance Education
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Foundations of Economics
Your students will benefit greatly by learning and reviewing the basics of economics. Understanding the building blocks of money education will help them grasp more challenging topics, meaning they will be more financially savvy than ever as they grow older. Going deeper into the subject, you can show how governments and businesses constantly make decisions based on available resources. You can demonstrate how scarcity, limited resources, human desires, opportunity cost, and trade-offs all impact decisions at many levels. You can also teach students about the qualities of a market economy, including property rights, freedom of enterprise, competition, consumer choice, and the limited role of government.
Teachers will see unlimited opportunities to teach this concept through hands-on activities and online resources. You can use modern economies and current events to display how these theories work in reality, including:
- Have students research competition among companies in an industry. You can guide them to corporations they have heard of, showing how they use various forms of advertisement to attract customers, comparing revenue and market share, and more. Explain that healthy competition benefits consumers, pricing, and product evolution. They can create poster boards or use online presentation tools to show their comparisons and present them to the class.
- Get into the idea of limited resources more fully. Since the focus of the 7th grade is world trade and resources, you could have them research a designated country, looking at its resources in detail. You could have students dive into its top exports, how many specific resources it has, what kinds of products it makes, and other items.
7th Grade Lesson Plan #1
Foundations of Economics
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You can describe how microeconomics studies the costs and benefits of financial decisions relating to people, businesses, and governments. Teachers can show how different financial entities are interrelated, with banks, companies, and labor unions working within the same systems. Students learn that private investment leads to economic growth through health initiatives, higher education, and training workers to improve their skills. You can go over how the government also promotes economic expansion through policy, regulation, and subsidies. Teachers can touch on the idea of physical capital, such as factories, equipment, and workers, and how putting time and money into these items can boost economies. Students may learn about historical and modern-day entrepreneurs, showing them that profit has been a significant driver of economies for a long time.
As you delve into microeconomics with your 7th-grade class, you will find many engaging ways to teach students about this complex topic. You can go deeply into sub-topics, having your class or homeschooler:
- Research a prominent entrepreneur in U.S. history. Have kids give a brief biography of the person, list their accomplishments, and pinpoint the problems that their person was trying to solve. They can create a report on these individuals and show how they influenced the business world, focusing on their impact beyond our borders (e.g., Henry Ford’s mass production of the automobile spread across the globe, oil pioneers unlocked its potential in other countries).
- Compare private and public companies. Explain that in many industries, these firms may work together, while in others, different rules and regulations apply that may affect how they cooperate. Profit is often the central driver in private companies, and students can create projects that show the many contributions of private goods and services and their role in production and job creation.
7th Grade Lesson Plan #2
Teachers of 7th-graders can approach macroeconomics, which is the study of the results of choices made at a societal level on economies in many different ways. One of the main topics to teach to this grade level is inflation and its impact on prices, interest rates, and business activity. You can connect past periods of inflation to current events, comparing the rates and prices of goods and services then versus now. The good part of teaching money ideas in this grade is you can also link them to history and other subjects. For example, you can get into the Great Depression, continuously revisiting the idea of economics and its role in our country’s past. You can go over unemployment rates over time, showing kids that the numbers constantly change due to multiple factors.
Your 7th-graders will enjoy learning about these topics, particularly if you connect them to their lives. Some ways you can do that include:
- Get into detail with the idea of scarcity. This basic economic concept will keep popping up throughout money education, so it is a good idea to hammer it home. You can talk about human, natural, and capital resources, showing them that prices, supply, and demand all change due to scarcity. Students can fill out current event worksheets about modern-day products, goods, and services, connecting the idea of scarcity. For example, they may talk about digital art, NFTs, and cryptocurrency, highlighting the prices of these items and how rarity affects the value.
7th Grade Lesson Plan #3
This topic is ideal for 7th-graders, as it directly correlates with the theme of their year. You can explain that the world is more interconnected than ever before in history and that trade and financial connections between nations are vital. Different countries have various economic systems, which you can highlight for your students, and you can describe the types of countries that are similar and unique from each other. You can dive into developing and developed countries and how their means of production differ. Trade agreements, currencies, and national debts are other areas to target as you go over this concept. In this unit, teachers can show the importance of imports and exports and how countries have GDPs that directly tie into their trade with other countries.
Educators can quickly locate many practical resources for teaching global economics to 7th-graders. There are multiple ways to approach this concept, such as:
- Research the recent history of global interaction. Have kids look at trade agreements: which countries joined them, how alliances can shift, and what today’s trading patterns look like. They can make PowerPoints or posters showing world maps, highlighting which countries trade with each other and which ones are left out of the process.
- Put students into teams. Assign each group a nation to learn about, having them create a detailed report on its economy, resources, and level of financial independence. After they have researched and prepared their reports, have the class participate in a round table activity. Students can present their country’s strengths and needs, appealing to specific nations for trade.
7th Grade Lesson Plan #4
Teachers can tie everything together as they get into the topic of personal finance. In this unit, your 7th-graders will get to start planning out their financial futures, including budgets, income, and resources. You can cover crucial ideas like saving and investing, introducing your learners to the different vehicles they can use to grow their money. Kids at this age know what saving is and why it is so important, but they may not know about the many ways they can keep their money safe or make it increase over time. You can teach them about income, how different careers lead to variation in the salaries you receive, and how they can boost that income over their career.
There are many activities for teaching personal finance to 7th-graders. You can focus on your students’ interests, creating or finding exercises that get them thinking about their short-term and long-term money goals. One of these activities may:
- Have kids think about how they can get an income. They have financial wants and needs but may not know where to get the cash to buy things they desire. You can have partners brainstorm ideas for creating income. When they are done, share out and make a class poster with all of their money-making plans. Often, the first step is to plan and organize your thoughts when it comes to money, so it’s critical that your students get into this habit.