For Teachers

Money Education for 6th Graders

Here are the financial principles and money lesson plans for 6th grade students that you should be teaching!

teacher-sixth-grade

Sixth grade is an exciting time for many students, as this is often the year they cross over from elementary school into middle school. These kids still tend to have a natural interest in a lot of subjects, and teachers can work with this curiosity to enhance their money education. The central theme of 6th grade in financial learning is world trade, which you can use across multiple subjects to bring the points home to your students. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City recommends topics that 6th-grade learners should dive into, including shortage, surplus, finance, circular flow, exchange rate, the standard of living, and economic systems. These ideas are critical for your 6th-graders’ future financial success, and you can set them on a good path by teaching these concepts. Let’s dive into these topics and see how to approach them in your instruction. You will even find a lesson plan for each one, so let’s get going!

Shortage

Educators can jump into their 6th-graders money education with the topic of shortage, which is having fewer goods, services, or resources than you desire. You can explain that needs arise all the time, due to natural causes or artificial ones, and affect prices and production. Going back to the theme of world trade, you can show students that cultures have felt the results of shortages since the start of history and needed to come up with ways to compensate.

You can find many ways to teach this topic, using textbooks, worksheets, or websites. Many of these sources piggyback on social studies topics, so you can link the information to what they’re learning in those other classes. Some ways you can cover shortage include:

  • Have students research an ancient civilization of their choosing, focusing on the resources available to that place. Learners can create reports that show how limitations in resources caused their society to make specific decisions. You can connect their findings to the notion of trade, explaining that cultures share resources to meet their unique needs. You can also highlight how resources affected priorities in these civilizations, and people had to choose some things and give up others.
6th Grade Lesson Plan #1

Shortage

Surplus

As you wrap up the concept of shortage, you can explain to students that surplus is the opposite. This idea is when you have more of a specific good, service, or resource than you need, giving you extra supplies of things. Teachers can describe the different items you can have surpluses in and the outcomes of having additional resources. You can get into the many benefits of surpluses and how they led to global trade patterns and wealth accumulation in different civilizations.

There are multiple ways to approach teaching this concept. You can focus on historical surpluses and compare those ancient civilizations to modern-day excesses. Some examples of this are:

  • Students can create posters showing one ancient civilization and a modern one. Have the kids break down what surpluses they had (gold in Africa, silk in China, etc.) and how they used these resources to benefit their cultures. Often, a result was increased trade across the globe, with incredible wealth accumulation and many material possessions. Then, students can look into current surpluses, like timber in Canada or oil in some Middle Eastern nations, and show how this boost has influenced world trade dynamics.
6th Grade Lesson Plan #2

Surplus

Finance

Teaching the idea of finance to your 6th-graders can be tricky because it is such a broad topic. The definition of finance is the management of money, but you will find many sub-topics that you can bring up to clarify the idea for kids. By focusing on the theme of world trade, you can frame it in a way that appeals to these kids and solidifies their knowledge. Teachers can go into how banking systems work, how to use credit responsibly, and what factors lenders consider before making lending decisions.

As you get into the concept of finance, you will find many methods and ways to teach it. Ideally, you can appeal to kids’ growing interest in money and personal finance, making connections between what they are learning in class and their money futures. For example, you can:

  • Research how interest can affect their money. Students can look online for interest rates on different products, such as loans and mortgages, determining how much their purchase will cost after including interest payments. You can deepen their understanding by showing them more things that involve interest rates, including savings accounts and car purchases.
6th Grade Lesson Plan #3

Finance

Circular Flow

Circular flow is the idea that shows the connections between households and businesses, including how products, goods, and services circulate from production to marketplace to consumer. Teachers can explain that everything used in economic systems – currency, food, and services – goes through a continual exchange process. You can show them how factories produce toys and gadgets, trucks, trains, and planes distribute them, and consumers purchase them in stores or online.

While the concept of circular flow is straightforward enough, it may be a bit too theoretical for some 6th-grade students. Teachers can give their learners practice in the topic with hands-on activities, including:

  • Create a mock production system. Have teams figure out a product they want to make, showing how they would develop it. Once they determine their goods or services, they can describe how it is shipped, to which stores, where customers purchase them, and how the disposal or recycling process works. You can have them make posters showing the circular flow of their product and tell them to describe the movement of their goods throughout the exchange process, noting that it is not a one-way street with a start and finish line.
6th Grade Lesson Plan #4

Circular Flow

Exchange Rates

The topic of exchange rates is essential to the 6th-grade theme of global trade, making it ideal for your lesson focus. You can explain to the kids that exchange rate is the ratio at which you can exchange a country’s currency unit for another country’s currency. You can describe different currencies and how they stack up against each other, giving students an idea that money changes value constantly. As you go over ancient civilizations in 6th grade, you discuss geography extensively, and you can effortlessly transition into exchange rates.

You can get into exchange rates in several ways. Touching on the idea of world trade, you can connect current learning, especially in social studies, to this topic by:

  • Have students create colorful, detailed world maps with modern countries. Within each country, students can list the currency it uses and up-to-date exchange rates versus other countries.
  • You can have kids compare the cost of a toy in different countries, emphasizing the point that various currencies have more value than others.
6th Grade Lesson Plan #5

Exchange Rates

Standard of Living

Teachers can explain that standard of living refers to the level of everyday comfort individuals, groups, or countries experience in their daily lives. You can show them that the availability of resources, goods, and services influence this standard of living. You can also get into the idea of specialization and how it improves the standard of living. When you have experts in different areas, your society can improve across the board, including its economic functions.

Teachers can show kids how this topic works in various techniques. You can:

  • Go deeper into specialization and how it can positively affect cultures. Kids can research specific industries, showing the many ways people can specialize within that field. For example, if kids look into medicine, they can highlight the many types of doctors, ensuring better health and higher performance from healthcare specialists. You can have students report on the benefits of specialization, comparing it to places that do not have such expertise across industries.
  • You can let kids compare standards of living, showing how higher standards often lead to a higher quality of life, comfort, and health.
6th Grade Lesson Plan #6

Standard of Living

Economic Systems

The final topic for 6th-grade teachers to detail for their students is economic systems. Educators can cover how societies organize production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services in their approach. You can explain how different countries have various systems, usually based on resources, political beliefs, and relationships with other nations.

As you delve into this concept, you can explain how effective economic systems work, evolve, and adjust as time goes on, looking at history and modern methods. You can:

  • Have students develop compare/contrast reports between major countries and their economic systems. You can get into how governments, businesses, and individuals participate in those setups. You will find many resources online to help build background knowledge for your 6th-graders, including interactive websites, articles, and infographics. Have students create a digital presentation, or if you prefer, a poster showing the pros and cons of different approaches.
6th Grade Lesson Plan #7

Economic Systems

More Resources for 6th Grade Teachers

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: April 16, 2022