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Money: Bucks, Banks, And BusinessMoney-Bucks-Banks-And-Business

  • Subject: Economics
  • |
  • Grade(s): 6-8
  • |
  • Duration: One class period

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. Monetary exchange rates change constantly.
2. Students can convert money in any currency into its equivalent in U.S. dollars by using readily available exchange rates, published in newspapers and available online.


For this lesson, you will need:
Computer with Internet access


1. This computer activity—comparing local bus fares in cities around the world—is designed to make students comfortable with foreign currencies and aware of how much information the Internet provides for tourists to other parts of the world before they even leave home.
2. Send students to the Travel Center page at CNN's financial Web site to find information on cities worldwide. The URL is
3. Tell each student to select three cities outside the United States. The site allows users to select individual cities within three groupings: Americas, Europe, and Asia/Africa.
4. When the student's first city appears on screen, he or she should click the "Transportation" option and then narrow down the information further by clicking on "Getting around." Within this text, the student should look for the price of the basic fare for a bus ride in town. The student may find a range of fares for in-town trips, in which case he or she should note the most expensive. The student must note the amount of local currency that the bus ride costs—e.g., not simply "120" but "120dr" (for "120 drachmas") for Athens; not simply "1,500" but "1,500lire" for Florence. If the student's target city does not have local bus service, the student should pick another city.
5. After the student has found bus fares for three cities, he or she should go to the following page: cnnfn. There the student should scroll down to the Currency Converter and follow the instructions to find out how much the three bus rides would cost in U.S. dollars. Specifically, the student can request a conversion of 120 Greek drachmas to U.S. dollars; of 1,500 lire to U.S. dollars; and so on. To use the Currency Converter, the student does need to know which country each of the chosen destination cities is in.
6. Ask students to hand in all the data they have found and their conclusions as to which of the three cities charges the most for a local bus ride.

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Encourage students to pick six cities, three of which should be members of the European Union. Students should use the CNN Currency Converter to convert the price of the bus fares in cities in the European Union countries not only to U.S. dollars but also to euros. You can further adapt this activity by asking students to estimate more than bus fares; using information from other parts of the CNN site or other sites, students should estimate the cost of a one-week stay in one of the cities he or she has selected.

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Discussion Questions

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You may evaluate your students' work using the following three-point rubric:
  • Three points: student has followed each step of the assignment; student arrives at the correct conclusion regarding the most expensive bus fare
  • Two points: student follows most steps of the assignment; student does not arrive at the correct conclusion regarding the most expensive bus fare
  • One point: student makes an effort but does not follow the assignment; student does not arrive at the correct conclusion regarding the most expensive bus fare

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Conversion Fees
Tell students to find out how much they would have to pay to convert their U.S. dollars to another currency. What do banks charge for the service they provide? What do currency-exchange companies charge? Why do they charge these fees?

Currency Debate
Should all countries use the same currency? Ask students to list reasons in favor of and reasons against one universal currency.

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Suggested Readings

Joe Cribb, Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

Get Real
James Tenuto and Susan Schwartzwald, Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1992.

The Basics of Foreign Trade and Exchange
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Public Information Department, 1993.

"The Stock Market Game"
The Joint Council on Economic Education, Economics America New York, NY 10036 1-212-730-7007

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What's New About Your Money
Visit the U.S. Treasury and find out what changes are being made to U.S. currency to help guard against counterfeiting.

The United States Mint
Visit this Department of Treasury and the U.S. Mint website to find out more about the Mint. Links to information on its history, the production of a coin, and circulating coins are also included.

Ben & Jerry's Home Page
For your students who are interested in learning more about Ben and Jerry's ice cream business, have them visit the Ben & Jerry's home page. Here students will find more information on the company, scoop shop lists and the "flavor graveyard."

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    barter
Definition: To exchange, swap or trade items for one another.
Context: Without money, we would have to barter for what we want.

speaker    wampum
Definition: Small beads made from polished clam shells threaded on a string or made into a belt.
Context: The darker the wampum, the more valuable it was in trade.

speaker    counterfeit
Definition: To forge or make a copy of something.
Context: Engravers create intricate portraits, signatures, and numbers so that it is difficult to counterfeit money.

speaker    commodity
Definition: Asset, merchandise, goods; an item of exchange and value.
Context: Gold is expensive because it is a rare and desirable commodity.

speaker    imported
Definition: Not native; brought in from a foreign country.
Context: In Japan, imported goods are popular and expensive.

speaker    enterprise
Definition: A business establishment aimed toward making a profit.
Context: Small opportunities are sometimes the beginnings of a great enterprise.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: economics
Understands characteristics of different economic systems, economic institutions, and economic incentives.
Understands that all societies have developed economic systems in order to allocate their resources to produce and distribute goods and services.

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: economics
Understands basic concepts of United States fiscal policy and monetary policy.
Knows that the Federal Reserve System is the principal organization that regulates money and banking in the United States.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: economics
Understands basic concepts of United States fiscal policy and monetary policy.
Knows that banks may lend a certain percentage of the money that is deposited with them, but they may not lend over the amount of reserves they are required to keep by the Federal Reserve System.

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Summer Productions, Inc.

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