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2nd Grade Social Studies Curriculum: How do we make tough choices when spending money?


Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.

This blog post is one in a series that breaks down one unit from each grade level of Inquiry Journeys, inquirED's core elementary social studies curriculum. For a trial account containing all lessons for the unit, click below.


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2nd Grade Social Studies Curriculum Essential Question

How do we make tough choices when spending money?


2nd-grade social studies students put themselves in the role of the consumer by evaluating the various goods and services available to them in their community model. They participate in a bingo-like game that models the difficult process of deciding how to spend money and how to prioritize when the unexpected happens. Finally, students reflect on their learning to create spending advice for others. Objectives include:

  • Explain how scarcity necessitates decision-making

  • Give reasoning for personal decisions

  • Explain why people save


Lesson 1: Financial Advice

2nd-grade social studies students read the book The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money by Stan and Jan Berenstain, learn about some common idioms related to money, then draft financial advice for making tough choices with money.

Lesson 2: Getting Ready for Tough Choices!

2nd-grade social studies students read Do I Need It? Or Do I Want It? by Jennifer S. Larson. Then, they design Uh-Oh! Cards, a key component to the interactive economics game they will play at the end of the module. The Uh-Oh! Cards describe realistic scenarios that force a player to prioritize fulfilling a need over a want.


Lesson 3: Uh-Oh! Card Critique

When 2nd-grade social studies students are working on a meaningful deliverable, it can be very helpful to facilitate a formal Critique session so that they may improve their work. Here, students are introduced to the basics of critique practice (warm, cool, and suggestion feedback) by starting with a low-stakes critique of teacher work. Then, students have an opportunity for peer feedback before revising their work in the Closing.


Lesson 4: Making Tough Choices!

2nd-grade social studies students play the Tough Choices! game that they have been designing over the course of this module. This simulation helps students understand the tough choices people have to make when spending money.