How Much Will This Cost?

3, 4, 5

Students will determine how much it will cost to participate in a service project. A budget will be established.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Three Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • analyze the cost of planning and implementing a service project.
  • design a graph or chart to explain the proposed budget for the service project.
  • Budget Planning: What Will It Cost? (Attachment One)
  • Budget Samples (Attachment Two)
  • A Weekly Budget (Attachment Three)
  • Graph paper
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Computer programs with graphing capabilities (optional)
Home Connection 

Students will make a chart or graph showing a typical weekly household budget. See A Weekly Budget (Attachment Three).


Lewis, Barbara A. The Kid's Guide to Social Action. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 1991.


  1. Once students are in the corners of their choice, ask them to come to a group consensus:"Do you think it would cost anything to create a product from your corner? (For example: Do you think it would cost anything to make a poster about horses, to sing a song about horses, to find out and report information about horses, or to make math problems related to buying a horse?") Students will discuss this in their groups and share their ideas with the class.

  2. Explain that for some of the corners it would cost more to create a product than others. As a class it would be necessary to distribute funding differently to different corners. Therefore, the class would have to establish a budget. (A budget is the total amount of money allocated for a certain purpose, including both income and expenditures.)

  3. With students still in their groups for discussion, pose the following questions:

      1. To plan and carry out our service project (planning to help a family after a house fire), do you think it will cost our class anything?
      2. Where will we get the funding we need to cover any costs?
      3. What will be the most expensive part of planning and implementing our service project?
      4. How could we help pay for expenditures?
      5. How could we conserve our limited resources?
  4. Together, have students analyze the proposed service project from Lesson Two: Plan of Action to determine the expenditures that may be incurred. The first portion of Budget Planning: What Will It Cost? (see Attachment One) will provide a guide for completing this activity.

  5. Using the information from the worksheet just completed, determine how much the service project will cost the class. (It will probably be approximately $10-20 for materials, printing costs, mailings, etc. Many people will donate items for a good cause or give discount rates for services.) Itemize the cost of all the expenditures, (e.g., paper for posters: $3; printing of fliers: $4; mailing thank you notes: $2; envelopes for collecting money donations: $2).

  6. After the expenditures have been estimated, the class can decide on how to earn an "income" to cover the costs. Have students share their ideas recorded on the last part of Budget Planning: What Will It Cost? (see Attachment One). Student ideas may include: each will donate 50ยข, collect soda cans, bring in pennies, etc.

  7. Show students how to create a bar graph or pie chart for the service project budget. See Budget Samples (Attachment Two). Have them complete one for their class project.

  8. Display the graphs of the service project budget.


Students will create a graph or chart of the class' service project budget. Award one point for the labels on the graph, one point for correctly charting/graphing the budget, and one point for identifying the class income.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.2 Describe a project budget.