What do you know about the Texas economy? Let’s talk about business and industry in Texas! Texas is home to a varied landscape of businesses that keep our economy healthy. Read on for how to keep students engaged while learning about our state’s economics!
This unit is always a really fun one for students. Depending on the amount of time you are able to spend on it you can really make it come alive! Traditionally I have not been able to get to this unit until the last month of school when you guessed it, testing is done for the year and we have a little, emphasis on little, more time to spend on social studies.
One of the ways that I like to use this new found time is by inviting guest speakers. Every city or small town has a plethora of small business owners that would LOVE to come and speak to your students.
Ideally, I try to get someone from each of the seven major areas of commerce in Texas. Some are easier than others to find depending on what part of the state you are in. No matter whether we have one speaker or twenty though, my students have always been thrilled to have a guest visit.
Before we get too deep into our unit, the Free Enterprise System has to be discussed. Most fourth graders are well versed in this system since they spent a lot of third grade talking about it and participating in something along the lines of a market day.
When I ask my students what they remember most about it, most say it is supply and demand. This is a pretty good place to start.
We use what they already know to dive into our interactive notebooks. With activities on supply and demand as well as what makes a free enterprise economy our notebooks soon become a wealth of knowledge.
Together we also make an anchor chart with important vocabulary for the unit and a free enterprise economy.
Next, we talk about imports v. exports and what that means in Texas. Of course, fourth graders think that anything you could ever want comes from Texas or China. This sort is a great way to flush things out.
From there we move onto the seven main industries in Texas. Agriculture is huge where we are and therefore gets its own fold-up where we talk about cash crops and ranching.
Then we discuss oil, technology, manufacturing, tourism, logging, and the service industry. Depending on where you live in Texas, one of these industries may provide you with an ideal field trip!
Finally, we finish up by discussing the differences between goods and services. One way to start this discussion is to have students pair-share about something they like to do or want and whether that is a good or a service. Then bring the discussion to a class level and talk about the difference and record them in the fold-up.