Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Directory of Lesson Plans TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers

TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Math and Science Learning
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
Our Mission
   Press Releases
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award


Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Fair Share for Our Schools: A Multidisciplinary Curriculum: How Does Money Affect Education?
View the Short Video: Campaign for Fiscal Equality: Students Speak Out

Lesson Materials (word document)

Aim: Students will investigate how money affects schools by simulating shopping for school resources and supplies.

Connection/Motivation: Yesterday, we read two passages that compared two very different schools (See How Are Schools Different?). Today, we are going to do an activity that will help us examine what happens when some schools are funded unfairly compared to others. (If necessary, explain that funded means how much money schools are given.)


  • Chart Paper
  • “What We Would Buy” worksheet
  • Calculators (optional)

Procedure/teaching points:

  • Display a prepared “Classroom Items Price List” for students to read. (A sample list is attached.)
  • Explain that each group will take on the role of an elementary school principal trying to buy supplies for one classroom. Each group will get a specific amount of money to spend on school supplies and classroom items.
  • Tell students that groups must agree on what to buy and they cannot spend over the amount of money they are allocated.
  • Instruct groups to record the items they select, the cost and the total money spent on the attached worksheet.
  • Divide students into groups of four and tell them that they will have 15 minutes to complete their shopping trip.

Student engagement/activity:

  • “Give” half of the groups $500 to spend and give the other half $1,000 to spend. Tell students that, as in real life, some school districts will have twice as much to spend as others.
  • Allow students about 15-20 minutes to spend the money and record the costs.
  • While students are working, the teacher should circulate and monitor students, encouraging them to explain their decisions.
  • When the teacher sees that most groups have completed the task, s/he should have the groups bring their papers and meet on the carpet for a discussion.


  • Ask groups that had $1,000 to report out on the supplies what they decided to buy. Record their choices on the board.
  • Ask groups that had $500 to report out on what they would buy and record their choices.
  • Discuss what students notice about the two different lists on the board. Elicit responses that point out that if you have more money you can buy more supplies and better equipment. Also, invite students to share how they felt while doing this activity (answers could include that it was unfair, it was hard when there was only $500 to figure out what to buy, etc.).
  • The teacher should explain that this activity is an example of what is happening in different schools across New York State. Some schools have a lot more money than others. In fact, schools in New York City have been shortchanged 11 million dollars.

Variations: Have students generate the list of classroom items that can be purchased. Discuss with students what materials are necessary and/or desirable for a classroom, from pencils to televisions and lab equipment. Information from How Are Schools Different? will be important to this discussion.

Make a list of approximately 20 items that the class agrees upon. Some of these items should be necessary items, such as pencils and paper, and some should be ‘luxury’ items, such as computers and dvd players. Assign dollar values to the items on the list. It will be important to consider that the most any group will have is $1,000, so prices will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Option for Literacy:The teacher should explain that 11 million dollars is a lot of money. Read students How Much is a Million by David M. Schwartz in order to help students visualize and understand just how big one million is, and then use that as a basis for understanding $11 million.

Challenge: In order to raise the level of difficulty, explain that each class they are shopping for has 25 students. Instead of telling groups a total dollar amount they have to spend, tell half of the groups that they get $25 per pupil and tell the other half that they get $50 per pupil.


  • Have students write about what they would buy for their school if they had a million dollars.


  • Teacher can judge students’ understanding of material based on participation in group work and discussion.
  • Teacher should also check students’ homework for understanding.

Subject Areas:
Language Arts

Grade Levels:  3-5

About the teachers:

Leigh Mesler is an elementary school teacher at P.S. 196 in Region 8 in Brooklyn. She is in her third year of teaching and has had the pleasure of teaching first and third grade. She has been involved in Teacher College Leadership groups and plans to continue to be involved in various education groups. Leigh is interested in the issues specific to urban schools, including how they are affected by high stakes testing, allocation of funds, and teacher recruitment and retention.


Michele Allison obtained her undergraduate degree in Natural Science with Elementary Education Certification form SUNY Genese in Upstate New York. Part of the certification program afforded her the opportunity to complete student teaching in Rowland Heights, California. After student teaching in California, she began to teach fifth grade in New York City, noticing the similarities and differences between the two school systems, and using methods from California that would work in the her New York City classroom. She taught fifth grade for two years before switching to the third grade, which she has taught for the past three years. During this time, she obtained her Masters of Arts degree in Childhood Education from Adelphi University.



Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.


Journey Back to the Great Before