Bear Bucks: Beginning Economics

Your lesson will take place in The Berenstain Bears exhibit. In Bear Country, the Berenstain Bears are busy in Mama Bear’s Quilt Shop, Papa Bear’s Woodworking Shop, the Bear Family Restaurant, Farmer Ben’s Farm, and the Bear Country School.

Lesson extensions for before or after Your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich your museum experience.

Kid money (Kindergarten)

This activity can be used to develop number sense as it relates to dollars. Have the group sit in a semi-circle. Have each child wear a sticky note with a $1 symbol on his or her shirt. Ask one child to come into the center of the semi-circle and stand on either a box or a step. Give that child a sticky note with a dollar amount from $2 to $5. Have the group notice the amount of money now displayed on that child’s shirt. The rest of the children form groups that equal that amount.

Kid money (First and Second Grades)

Use this fun activity to give your students a physical strategy for identifying money and dollar equivalents. Hand each child a sticky note with a dollar denomination to wear on his or her shirt. Have the group sit in a semi-circle. Ask one child to come into the center of the semi-circle and stand on either a box or a step. Have the group notice the amount of money written on that child’s shirt. Instruct the rest of the children to figure out, alone or in groups, which of them equal the amount of money represented on the child’s shirt. Be prepared for several combinations to be identified. These groups should stand with the child in the center of the semi-circle.

Old MacDonald’s money

Before the game begins:

  • Distribute several dollar bills of different denominations to each student.
  • Set up a flannel board with farm animals. Each animal should be labeled with a price tag. Prices should match the amounts on the students’ bills.
  • Quickly review the dollar denominations.
  • The teacher asks the children, “What do you notice about these animals?” (They have price tags.)
  • Tell the children that you will sing “Old MacDonald” and that the words will change slightly for this activity.
  • Teacher models new version of the song:

    Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
    And on that farm he had a (pig), E-I-E-I-O
    With a ten dollars here and a ten dollars there
    Here a dollar, there a dollar
    Everywhere a dollar, dollar
    Old MacDonald had a (pig), E-I-E-I-O

As the children sing the song, they pick the correct bill from their pile and hold it up. Repeat the verse using other animals and denominations.

Suggested reading

  • The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money by Stan Berenstain
  • The Berenstain Bears’ Mad, Mad, Mad Toy Craze by Stan and Jan Berenstain