1.)Hold class discussion about the definition of needs, wants, and resources. Teacher may list on board and/or students may make a brief list in their journals. Assignment: worksheet asking students to identify 1 or 2 of their perceived needs, 1 or 2 things they just want, and what resources they have available to them to help attain these desires. Take home and bring back completed the next day.
2.)On day two have students share from their homework sheets on resources/needs/wants. Keep in journal. Explain that they are going to get to participate in an experiment to see how it might really be to have to meet your needs out of resources you earn.
3.)Explain the guidelines: school is their main job so they will be paid a set amount (all amounts determined by the teacher in advance)for showing up for work and being prepared (having homework completed, pencils or books needed, etc.) They will also all have rotating tasks assigned, such as, line leader, energy captain, message runner, clean-up crew (for end of the day spiffing and next-day prep), postman, and any other jobs appropriate to your classroom. Everyone should have equal opportunity to have a "special" job at some time during the length of this unit. Explain that when they do their jobs, they will be paid, as long as they document each day's work on the timesheet. (Timesheet can be a simple check off table where the student writes name & date at the top and checks all appropriate spaces.)From the wages earned students may pay taxes to support some jobs that benefit everyone (postman, clean-up crew, others as appropriate) and they may use their money to pay for extra library trips, extra computer time, extra bathroom trips, rent on desk space, snacks, replacement school supplies--whatever the teacher deems appropriate for each classroom.
4.)Students will each need mailboxes to receive pay, notes from each other, bills, and so forth. (The postman must have something to deliver!) Have students create an envelope or decorate a pre-prepared envelope to hang on their desk for a mailbox.
5.)Give out timesheets. Explain how to document their work. You may choose to have a "Quality Control" committee whose job it is to sign off that the timesheets are accurate and the assigned work was done to classroom standards.
6.)Assign jobs. Pull names from a hat, or whatever your favorite method is to assure everyone that the assignments are fair. Rotate jobs every few days or as needed to give everyone a chance to do a special job or two. Remember, SCHOOL is everyone's MAIN job, and all should receive pay for that. The extra jobs should be shared equally over the period of this unit.
7.)Give time at the beginning and/or end of each day (5-10 minutes max) to write a note to a friend or prepare a bill for someone to who they may have rendered an extra service--or to PAY bills if necessary (attach a note to the dollars "To Susie, for going back to get my sweater on the playground." These kinds of services and bills for such must have been mutually agreed upon. Payment for kindnesses to classmates should not be expected or solicited!
8.)Give time toward the end of EVERY day to write in journals. Students should record their thoughts and experiences, how they feel, what they would like to change, etc. The journals are required and will themselves be used as a resource in the assessment phase.
9.)When the unit time draws to an end, have the students add up how much money they have earned and spent over the time. Did they come out ahead or behind? Why do they think this happened? Could they have done anything differently and changed their financial outcome? Have this be their journal topic for today.
10.)Assign a reflective essay. Students should use their journal entries as resource material and create a rough draft, edit, and turn in a final draft. Students may hand write or use a word processor for the final draft. Ask them to address questions like, "Which jobs did you think were the best ones? The worst? Did anything seem unfair? Did people work together well or not? Do you think you are ready to be responsible for your own finances? To balance the resources and needs of a whole family? Is there anything from this unit that you would like to keep as a regular part of our class life?"
11.)As an adjunct to this unit, read Double Fudge by Judy Blume. This newest book about Peter and his little brother "Fudge" deals with Fudge's obsession with money. It's funny and timely. It will be a "lighter side" to the sometimes heavy responsibilities of dealing with finances!