Are you looking for an engaging, but purposeful Valentine's Day activity for your upper elementary students? If you are looking for something LOW PREP, that incorporates life skills, then this simulation activity is a great option!
One important social studies skill that our students need to grasp is an understanding of the economic concept of analyzing individual decision-making. We do this through the evaluation of cost vs. benefit. Basically, what this means is that students need to be able to weigh an economic decision (such as spending money) and be able to justify and show that the benefits (of the purchase) are greater than the costs.
I've created a simulation that allows students the ability to spend $100 (pretend money) on a gift(s) and experience for a special someone. Students get to weight the costs and benefits of how they will spend their money through each step of the planning process and experience. They record their choices, the cost and benefits on a spending sheet, and keep track of their expenses.
In addition, there are several unexpected events that happen along the way where the student must make a decision that either involves spending money or finding an inexpensive alternative.
There may be times when a student spends most of their money and runs into a situation where they must forgo a purchase (snacks at the game, etc.) or make adjustments in the moment.
At the end of the simulation, if students have unspent money, they can pay it forward, since the $100 came to them unexpectedly anyway.
Students then have an opportunity to evaluate all of their decisions. They will be asked what they might do differently, what was the most difficult decision they had to make, as well as analyze the average spending of an American on Valentine's Day, among other things. This is a great opportunity for classroom discussion as each student will have made their own economic decisions and will have a chance to share their reasoning for each decision.
This simulation can be done whole group with the teacher walking students through each step of the simulation, or students can go through the simulation on their own if they have access to PowerPoint.
As far as teacher prep, really all you need to do is make sure you have access to computers, and print the spending and analysis sheet. Viola! Super easy! If you want to check out all the details jump over to my little shop here.