Combining Read-Alouds With Economics in the Primary Grades
- Preview |
- Standards |
- Resources & Preparation |
- Instructional Plan |
- Related Resources |
Teachers can begin teaching economic concepts using many of the same books they already use to teach literary elements. This lesson uses two books, Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola and A Symphony for the Sheep by C.M. Millen, to provide early exposure to economic concepts while encouraging reading comprehension. Prereading and postreading discussions and activities promote vocabulary building and analytical thinking. Students gain knowledge of the economic terms "natural resource" and "producer" as they make text-to-world connections. Teachers can assess students' understanding of the economic concepts by having students use simple graphic organizers.
Interactive Venn Diagram: Thus tool makes it easy for students to compare and contrast the different types of economic concepts.
From Theory to Practice
Reading quality children's books aloud allows teachers to combine literature lessons with teaching economic content. There are numerous books, many already familiar to teachers, that deal with economic issues.
By using research-based methods, teachers can increase the effectiveness of reading aloud. Books chosen for reading aloud can match curriculum goals.
Teachers can find at least six times a day to read aloud to students. Using books across content areas helps to build concepts, improve vocabulary, and support the development of language images.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola (Prentice Hall, 1974)
- A Symphony for the Sheep by C. M. Millen (Houghton Mifflin, 1996)
- Computers with Internet access
- LCD projector or large monitor
|Make sure you are familiar with the economic concepts natural resource and producer. For a definition of natural resource that you can adapt for students, see AmosWEB Gloss*arama. To find a definition of producer that is appropriate for students, visit EconEdLink: Little Bill the Producer! and click on the link that says "interactive activity."
|Obtain copies of Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola and A Symphony for the Sheep by C.M. Millen, and familiarize yourself with them before reading them aloud to your class. Keep in mind the economic goals of the lesson as well as the goal of teaching sequence as you read them.
|Preview the Sheep Shearing in Vermont online video.
|Decide whether students will use Venn diagrams to compare the two books individually, in small groups, or as a whole-class activity. Consider using the interactive Venn Diagram as an online tool for this activity. Alternatively, you can make a Venn diagram on chart or butcher paper to record (or model recording) students' comments about the books. Another option is to use one of the printable Venn Diagram handouts.
|Prepare a sequence chart on butcher or chart paper for each book. Have handouts of the Sequence Chart graphic organizer or the Sequence Activity (for Charlie Needs a Cloak) ready if students will complete them individually or in small groups.
|Have handouts of the That Reminds Me Of... graphic organizer ready so students can complete them after the read-aloud of each book.
|Prepare a vocabulary list on chart or butcher paper. Identify the vocabulary words in the two books that relate to natural resources and producers as economic concepts. (See the activity at the end of Session 1.)
|If your students are not familiar with Think-Pair-Share as a reading comprehension strategy, model it and give your students an opportunity to practice it with a familiar story such as the Three Little Pigs. Give students a thinking prompt, then have them pair up and share their answers with their partners. Ask for volunteers or call on pairs to share answers with the whole class. For additional information, you can read Strategies for Reading Comprehension: Think-Pair-Share.
|If you do not have a classroom computer with Internet access and a projection screen or large monitor, make arrangements to use the school's computer lab for Session 3 and possibly Session 4.
- Develop familiarity with economic concepts by listening to two stories and identifying economic elements
- Learn to make connections between books they hear and real-life situations by thinking about the roles that the economic concepts natural resource and producer play in their lives
- Demonstrate an understanding of the connection between economic concepts they hear in read-alouds and encounter in their lives through discussion and graphic organizers
- Identify sequences in stories using graphic organizers
Session 1: Read-Aloud (20 to 30 minutes)
|Gather students in their usual spots for read-alouds and introduce Charlie Needs a Cloak. Tell them that it is by Tomie dePaola, and if they are familiar with his works, remind them of other titles (e.g., Strega Nona, The Art Lesson).
|Activate students' prior knowledge:
|Remind your students to listen for examples of natural resources and producers in Charlie Needs a Cloak, and then read it aloud.
|After reading the book, ask students to identify the natural resource and producer in the story using the Think-Pair-Share model (natural resources = sheep and fleece; producer = Charlie).
|Discuss the sequence of the story. Outline the order, using the Sequence Chart graphic organizer. This can be a whole-class, small-group, or individual activity. Save the chart to compare with A Symphony for the Sheep. You can also have students do the Sequence Activity.
|Have students complete the That Reminds Me Of... handout as a class or independently. If students are to complete the handout independently, model how to use it by pointing out something that the author said and telling them what it reminds you of.
|Discuss how Charlie got his new cloak. Encourage your students to talk about getting a new coat. (This could be another Think-Pair-Share activity.) Have students complete the My New Coat worksheet by writing about how they would get a new coat. There are two versions of this handout, so you can choose the version that is appropriate for your class.
|If you have created a vocabulary chart, discuss the words in Charlie Needs a Cloak that relate to natural resources and producers as economic concepts. These might include sheep, shear, cloak, and fleece. Decide how you will help students understand them, such as by showing pictures from the book or pointing them out while reading the story.
Session 2: Read-Aloud (20 to 30 minutes)
|Gather the students in their usual spots for read-alouds and introduce A Symphony for the Sheep. Tell them that it is by C.M. Millen and illustrated by Mary Azarian, who won the Caldecott Medal for Snowflake Bentley.
|Activate students' prior knowledge (from Session 1) about sheep, natural resources, and producers.
|Tell students that the setting of this story is Ireland. You may want to have students locate Ireland on a map or globe.
|Remind students to listen for examples of natural resources and producers in A Symphony for the Sheep, and then read the book aloud.
|After reading the book, ask students to identify the natural resource and producer in the story using the Think-Pair-Share model (natural resource = sheep; producers = shearer, spinner, weaver, knitter).
|Discuss the sequence of the story. Outline the order using the Sequence Chart graphic organizer. This can be a whole-class, small-group, or individual activity. Save the chart to compare to Charlie Needs a Cloak.
|Have students complete the That Reminds Me Of... handout as a class or independently. If students are to complete it independently, model how to use the sheet.
|If you have created a vocabulary chart, discuss the words in A Symphony for the Sheep that relate to natural resources and producers as economic concepts. These might include sheep, knitter, spinner, and shearer. Have your students (individually or in small groups) make an illustration for each one.
Session 3: Video (10 minutes)
If you do not have a classroom computer with Internet access and a projection monitor, this session should take place in your school's computer lab.
|Show the Sheep Shearing in Vermont online video so students can see how shearing is done.
|Discuss the video, reviewing the natural resources and producers. Relate the video to each read-aloud. You might ask the following questions:
Session 4: Making Connections (20 to 30 minutes)
|Review the sequence charts the class made when discussing Charlie Needs a Cloak and A Symphony for the Sheep. Use them to compare the two books and complete a Venn diagram. Depending on your students' abilities, this can be a whole-class, small-group, or individual activity. (Consider using the interactive Venn Diagram or the printable Venn Diagram handouts.) Prompt students to identify similarities and differences between the two books by asking questions such as:
|Using the completed That Reminds Me Of... sheets about the books, conduct a class discussion asking students what each book makes them think about in their lives. You could begin the discussion by noting something that one of the books reminded you of. Then you could continue by asking your students if there was something in each book that reminded them of something similar in their lives. If students have completed their own sheets, they could use Think-Pair-Share to discover if they and their partner had one or more of the same answers.
- If your students have never seen sheep, visit a farm or petting zoo to see them. If this is not possible, take a virtual trip to a farm (Sheep 101) or see how wool is sheared (Sheep Shearing Pictures).
- Take a virtual trip to a cheese factory to see milk turned into cheese products.
- Read aloud the book A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert (Dragonfly Books, 1988). In this book, Anna gets a new coat through barter. Encourage your students to compare the ways Charlie and Anna get new coats.
- Read aloud A Goat in a Rug by Charles L. Blood (Aladdin, 1976). In this book, a goat tells the story of how a rug is made from her goat hair.
- Find economics-related lesson plan ideas at the following websites:
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Have students refer to the That Reminds Me Of... sheets for each book and complete the writing assignment My New Coat using the version of this activity that you find appropriate for them.
- Using the Observation Rubric for Writing and Vocabulary, assess students’ understanding of the way economic concepts relate to their lives, their writing in relation to the standards established for your grade, and their use of the economic terms and new vocabulary from the read-alouds.
- Using the Observation Rubric for Comparisons, assess how well students were able to complete the Venn diagram in Session 4. Were they able to see similarities and differences between Charlie Needs a Cloak and A Symphony for the Sheep? Did they use the information from the sequence charts?
- Use the Observation Rubric for Participation to assess how well students were able to identify the economic concepts at the end of Sessions 1 and 2. Were they able to correctly identify the natural resources and producers? Were they able to relate these to their own lives?
- Access flashcards, word search, and concentration games found at Quia: Economics and Read Alouds. Observe how well your students are able to identify producers and natural resources.