Consumer Choices

9, 10, 11, 12

Students will look at factors to consider when deciding where to purchase materials for carrying out a philanthropic action which will benefit the community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Minute Class Periods Plus Experiential Time

The learner will:

  • define the economic term opportunity cost.
  • do a cost-benefit analysis related to the purchase of goods.
  • complete a philanthropic project and reflect on its benefit to the community.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis Decision-Making Model (see Attachment One)
  • Optional: Information on the film If God Gives You Lemons (see Attachment Two)
  • Brown, Betty J. and John E. Clow. Our Business and Economic World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987.
  • Siers, Greg. If God Gives You Lemons, 16 mm. IntroSpec Pictures, 1998. 


  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask students where they shop and where the family purchases goods. Possible answers will indicate that some things are bought locally, while other items come from larger, chain-type stores out of the community. Announce that this lesson's purpose is to investigate what consumers consider when deciding where to purchase goods.

  2. Define, give examples of, and discuss the following terms:

    • consumer goods - products which all of us want or need.
    • opportunity cost - what is given up when one choice is made over another.
  3. Explain that since many items may be purchased in more than one place, the choices consumers make about where to purchase consumer goods might be based on various factors of differing importance.

  4. Optional: Show the video If God Gives You Lemons. Have students discuss the choice made by the main character and have them explain how it illustrates the term opportunity cost. Use the "If God Gave You Lemons" Information Sheet (handout) for topics to discuss.

  5. Distribute the Cost-Benefit Analysis Decision-Making Model (handout). Explain that, in this model, students will compare two things, looking at positives and negatives. They will then rate the importance of the positives and the negatives in reaching a conclusion. This model will be used to help the class decide where to purchase materials for a class project. (In this case, students will consider whether to buy materials at a locally owned and operated store or travel out of the community to a larger, chain-operated store.) Each choice has positive and negative factors. Students may come up with different factors but the result should be similar.

  6. Have students complete the form. The teacher may want a blank form to project to fill in with students as they go over their forms and report out their decisions. Sample answers are provided below.

    Cost Benefit Analysis — Where to Buy? Smaller, locally-owned store Larger, chain-owned store + - + - Creates jobs Higher prices Lower prices Overwhelming Gives personal attention Few choices Many choices Travel required for a distance Brings people to town Less service More resources and services Runs small stores out of business Allows charging and bills monthly Shorter hours Longer hours Customers and employees are anonymous

  7. After completing the form, ask students to give each of the positive factors a rating:

    +2 = (very) important +1 = not (very) important Then give each of the negative factors a rating: -2 = (very) important -1 = not (very) important

    Add the numbers in both of the positive and negative columns. Find the difference in the two categories of stores. Then tabulate the final difference and explain the result. Have students hand in their completed charts with the explanations included.

  8. Introduce the class project: Building a bench/planter unit, bookcase/shelf, fence, or landscaping. Complete a materials list as a class or have expert help with this step. Students may be assigned or volunteer to get a price list from a local and a chain store. If this step is included, time needs to be allowed for contacting stores and reporting back to the class. Taking into consideration the cost benefit analysis, decide as a class where to purchase materials for the class project.

    Order the materials and do the project.

  9. Assign a written reflection, which is a one-page paper, to define terms, analyze the decision making process, and identify the project as a philanthropic action to benefit the community.


Rubric for Chart and Reflection In order to earn Description 5 points All requirements are met as assigned. 4 points AlOne requirement is weak or incomplete. 3 points Two requirements are weak or inaccurate. 2 points Few requirements are met. 1 point Task reflects very little effort to fulfill requirements. 0 points The assignment was not handed in.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will complete a project of benefit to the community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Explain how <i>opportunity cost</i> relates to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.