Making Good Money Choices (3-5)

3, 4, 5

Students will use an economic decision-making model to help them decide where to donate money they have collected. They will evaluate what is most important to them (develop criteria for giving) and list possible alternatives for donating the money. Based on this economic decision-making process, the class will come to consensus on how to make a reasoned choice about using their money.

PrintGrades 2-3 One Forty-Five Minute Class Period Grades 4-5 Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • review economics and philanthropy vocabulary words from previous lessons.
  • learn new economic and philanthropy vocabulary words using a game, Philanthropy EconAround Bingo
  • use an economic decision-making process.
  • define how choices can effect their own well-being and that of the community.
  • Grades 4 & 5: Philanthropy EconAround Bingo game (Handout Two). An EconAround Bingo blank bingo sheet, found with the game,will need to be duplicated for each student). Teacher Note: Two versions of the game are included in this lesson: Handout Two contains the original game (47 cards), Handout Three contains a more basic introductory set of game cards (28 cards) and a game sequence list for introducing economics and philanthropy vocabulary. Choose the most appropriate version for your students based on their prior knowledge of economic and philanthropy vocabulary. If the introductory version is chosen, students could move on to the original version once they become familiar with the initial vocabulary.
  • Penny or small stoneand a wide pan or bowl of water
  • Decision-Making Model Grid (Handout One: Economic Decision-Making Model)
  • Four charts from Lesson One: Save, Spend, Donate, and Invest
Home Connection 

Interactive Family/ Student Homework: Copy the completed decision-making grid from the classroom discussion. Send a copy home with students along with a blank decision-making grid for the family to use. Request that parents ask their child about the process used in class and/or show their child how they use or can use the process to help with a current economic decision being made in their family.


PACED “Decision-Making Model Grid” from Master Curriculum Guide.  Teaching Strategies, 3-4.  National Council on Economic Education.


  1. Day One: Anticipatory Set: Introduce Philanthropy EconAround Bingo (Handout Two or Three) by telling students they will be playing game in class today to review and learn new economics vocabulary. Teacher Note: Prepare yourself ahead of time by reading Philanthropy EconAround Bingo rules and suggestion. Allow 30-45 minutes for the first- time playing the game (successive game times will take considerably less time than the first time). Students will be reviewing, practicing, and reinforcing their understanding of important vocabulary words from Lessons One and Two, and other important basic vocabulary words of economics and philanthropy. Five to ten small Bingo prizes (pencils, healthy snacks, etc.) may be helpful to use as incentives to motivate the students during the game. Day Two: Review the “donate” chart.Review the definition of philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talent or treasure for the common good. Introduce the word charity by writing on the board and explaining that charity is “money or other help given to aid those individuals or groups who are in need.”Ask students for some examples of charities in your community. Tell the students that today they will come to a consensus about how the money they are collecting will be spent or donated for charity. Talk about how much money has been collected so far. Use a penny or appropriate small stone, and bowl of water to demonstrate the ripple effect, how the economic decision they make as a class will have a ripple effect on the members of the class, the people who receive the gift, and probably others in the community.

  2. Review (from Lessons One and Two) why acting philanthropically is good for the community.

  3. Tell the students that you are going to show them a logical, fair, and intelligent way to make decisions that they can use throughout their lives to make good economic decisions. The class will be using the Economic Decision-Making Model to make a decision together about the money they collected to donate. Tell students that there are five steps of good decision making. (Write the following on the board or chart paper)

    1. Determine the decision to be made.
    2. Brainstorm several action ideas.
    3. Determine the criteria in making the decision.
    4. Evaluate the good and the bad points of each of the ideas in light of the important factors.
    5. Make a decision!

    Teacher Note: Explain to students that criteria are those things we think are important when deciding what to do. For instance, wanting food to taste good, wanting food to be healthy for us, wanting food to be easy to fix, are all criteria we could use in deciding what to eat!

  4. Draw a decision-making grid on the board, chart paper, or overhead projector (see Handout One: Decision-Making Model).

  5. Brainstorm action ideas by asking “To what causes could we donate the money we raise?” Brainstorm with students using a separate space on the board or overhead. List all their suggestions. Through discussion, reduce the list if possible to three to five alternatives or choices. Transfer these choices to the left column of the Decision Making Model grid. (These may be names of local charitable organizations or any other suggestions for what to do with class donations. You may include other suggestions such as buying something for the class. These choices can go through the decision making process, but will probably be rated low overall if the criteria are geared toward benefiting others).

  6. Talk about some of the issues that should be considered as they evaluate their choices: How can we use limited resources to the best advantage? What is a need in the local community? What is a community? What things (criteria) are important to the class when making a donation to benefit the common good?

  7. Explain that we need to have some criteria, or important things to consider, when making the best decision out of the various action ideas (choices) brainstormed by the class. It must be a decision that as many of the class as possible can support. Fill in the top row of the decision making model with some of the following criteria, and/or use additional criteria important to the students. Try to arrive at least four meaningful criteria so students can see the benefits of the model (it may be helpful to use a question format on the grid itself).

    1. Will this meet a community need?
    2. Will our donation benefit people (animals, children, the environment, or other class interest)?
    3. Will our donation enhance the common good?
    4. Is it a local charity?
    5. How many people will be affected by our donation (estimate)?
  8. Evaluate each action idea (alternative) with the class, one criteria at a time. Have them raise their hands and take a tally after you ask each question. (For example, if the first action idea is to give to a local food pantry, ask each of the criteria across the top of the grid questions and count the number of children who respond “yes” to each.) Write that number in the appropriate box.

  9. Remind students of opportunity cost being the next best alternative we give up when we make a choice, and that thinking about what they are giving up in each decision actually helps them make better decisions. Younger students will probably have a little tougher time understanding this initially, so a simple example of deciding to break a rule could result in an opportunity cost of not being able to have recess. Recess is the next best alternative given up in this case.

  10. Evaluate the number of positive responses for each criteria chosen corresponding to each idea or choice. Compare and discuss the results. If some criteria are more important than others, give them more “weight” when calculating the impact. Make a consensus decision together based on the highest number of positive responses and the relative importance of certain criteria over others. The alternative with the highest number of total votes should be the first choice. Explain that the opportunity cost for choosing the first choice is not being able to donate to the second best choice on the list of alternatives.

  11. Debrief after you make a decision using these questions as a guide:


Teacher observation of student participation in the decision-making process.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will identify community needs and propose ideas about how to respond to them with donated monies. They will come to consensus and choose the best alternative that will advance the common good, given their criteria for giving. At the end of the unit, they donate the money to the selected cause or charity.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Define philanthropy and charity.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> in philanthropic giving.
      2. Benchmark E.8 Recognize the difference between private property and common resources.
    3. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name examples of civil society organizations in the community.
    4. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
    5. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.1 Explore and research issues and present solutions using communication tools.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
      3. Benchmark E.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.