Personal finance and economics has long been one of my favorite social studies topics to teach. A few years ago I created a hands-on simulation for teaching students about the difficulty of trying to survive on a minimum wage job. My students loved it! I’ve now made the activity available in the TES Marketplace. Click here to download it for free or read on for more information about the activity.
The purpose of Life on Minimum Wage is for students to recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win (prize not yet determined) at Life on Minimum Wage students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued “surprise” cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.
All of the jobs in Life on Minimum Wage are connected so that if one business slows production or closes, the workers of another business are also effected. The goal here is to demonstrate the effects that a business closing has on a small town’s economy.