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Teaching Preschool Economics Through Scavenger Hunts

written by: Olive Estrella Coronado • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

One of the most fun and effective teaching strategies used in preschool is the scavenger hunt. How can you use this tactic to educate children about the concept of economics? Read on to learn more about how to do a scavenger hunt on economics for preschool children.

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    Eager little boys looking under the chairs. Enthusiastic little girls rummaging through the toys. The scavenger hunt is on! Searching for a list of things around the classroom or even all over the school is one way of not only letting your preschoolers shed off some of their energy, but also a great method to incorporate the various lessons or the theme you are taking up at the moment. For instance, using the scavenger hunt to show economic principles to preschool children is an effective teaching strategy that will surely have those active kids scurrying to and fro while having loads of fun and learning about the concept of money, needs and wants, supply and demand, and the like.

    Here are some ways on how to do a scavenger hunt on economics for preschool children:

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    Image from www.techtrekers.com
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    The Coin Quest

    Hide various coins around the classroom. You can place them in the trays, tape them to the walls, or just scatter them on the floor. Prepare and show the students glass containers labeled with each kind of coin (e.g. nickels, dimes) where they are supposed to collect the coins for counting later on. You may give a time limit if you wish. Afterward, as a class, you can count together the number of coins per kind and record the figures in a chart or through a pictograph. For older children, you may choose to facilitate addition of the real amount based on how much each coin stands for. This is a good activity to introduce the concept of economics and to help the kids learn about money. It can also improve their math skills. Furthermore, you can extend the lesson by asking kids what they can buy with the amount, and/or by discussing the importance of money and the difference between spending and saving. You may also want to repeat the activity with the use of play money in paper bills form.

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    The Picture Search

    In thinking up ways on how to do a scavenger hunt on economics for preschool children, there are many versions that you can use for the Picture Search:

    1. Utilize pictures that show needs and wants. Ask the students, “What do people need to live?" Write down their answers under the heading NEEDS. Then ask them, “But what are the things we just want but can live without?" Write down their answers on another column with the heading WANTS. Divide the students into two groups--- those who will look for the pictures of the needs (such as water, clothes, shelter, food) and those who will look for the pictures of the wants (such as car, toy, computer, book).
    2. Let the children find resources for each kind of product or service that you will show. For example, you show them a real sandwich. Then they must look for the pictures of bread, cheese, lettuce, and ham. If you show the picture of a restaurant, then they must look for pictures of tables, chairs, waiters, cooks, and a menu. As a result, they begin to grasp the natural, human, and man-made resources necessary for different goods and services.
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    The Grocery Expedition

    During dramatics time, a popular way of learning about economic principles is to have the kids pretend that they are in a grocery. Some take on the role of cashiers while others are sellers or helpers. Some act out as customers, too. How do you integrate the use of the scavenger hunt here? Set up your classroom of a certain area of your school as a grocery or supermarket, with rows of products.

    Begin by giving groups of children a grocery list and a time limit to search and tick off all the items in their list. It will definitely have them up and going, their minds reeling in knowledge through this enjoyable experience! You may also want to do this activity in a real grocery so long as you have enough adults to watch over and go with the kids. In addition, one way of extending this activity is to inform them of a situation in which the items are necessary and then to have them cross out the wants, leaving just the needs.

    You may also plan together a class fund-raising project beforehand, such as putting up a lemonade stand in school or selling cookies and sandwiches. In this way, the goal is clearer and more realistic for the students. They will be able to learn the concept of budgeting and of earning money. The money earned can be used for a class celebration or for a noble cause that the class agreed upon.

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    Whatever direction you choose, be sure to remember that one of the goals for working with preschool children is to make learning fun!