Government & the Market

In this unit, students learn about the relationship between the government and the economy. Starting with the basics of the market economy, students learn about government regulations on our market economy, where the government gets its money and what the government spends it on, and how banks and lending influence our economic system. Each lesson is a basic overview of a very broad topic and includes activities designed to show students how these topics impact their own lives.

Government & the Economy

This lesson uses the topic of cell phone service to illustrate how government and the economy are related. Students learn the difference between market, command, and mixed economies. Building on the idea of a mixed economy, the lesson discusses government limits on economic activity, including anti-trust laws, tariffs, and consumer protection. Having studied cell phone service as an example, students apply what they’ve learned by showing how the principles of a mixed economy work in the food production industry.

The Market Economy

This lesson teaches the basics about the market economy, including the relationships between consumers and producers, supply and demand, and profit and incentive. Students learn six traits of a market economy, compare the market economy to other types of economies, identify opportunity costs, and much more. We recommend teaching this lesson before the other lessons in this unit.


This lesson teaches the basics of taxes: what they are, who pays them, what kinds exist, and what they’re used for. Students learn how people’s income is taxed, how much revenue taxes generate, and how taxes and government services are related. Activities based on real life show students how to analyze a pay stub and how to calculate sales tax.

Government Spending

This lesson tackles a variety of topics related to government spending, including the federal budget, mandatory versus discretionary spending, and government debt. Students learn the difference between a surplus and deficit, the basics of federal budgeting, and the method the government uses to borrow money. They consider the complexities of deciding where the government’s money should go and compare those decisions to choices about personal budgeting. Finally, they work with actual federal spending figures from 2011 to see where the government’s money really goes.

People's Pie
Play Time: 15-30 mins
Learn to control the budget of the federal government.

Banks, Credit & the Economy

This lesson presents a crash course in the relationship between money, banks, and lending in our economy. Students first learn the basics about money and banks. Then they then learn about banks’ role as lenders and find out why lending plays such a huge role in our economy. Students learn about the Federal Reserve, inflation, and the Fed’s role in regulating our economy. Finally, they learn the difference between loans that serve as investments and loans for things that decrease in value, as well as the ugly side of borrowing and lending.

Kids & Credit

We’ve all heard it in line at the supermarket: “Will that be cash or credit?” Should young adults under the age of 18 be given access to credit cards? Some might argue that kids need to learn about credit, so they will be responsible with it as adults. Others say that kids buying things on credit will have the opposite effect: devaluing money and increasing impulse. In this Drafting Board issue, your students will explore each side’s reasons and evidence. They’ll produce a structured and polished argument in favor or against credit cards for minors.