Economics with Potato Chips

We are in the midst of our economics unit in social studies.  Today, I would like to share a fun lesson that uses potato chips to help address vocabulary (producers and consumers) and concepts (consumer decisions) found in our fourth grade Ohio state standards for economics. As an added bonus, the lesson ends with a fun writing activity.

To start off, I passed out small bowls full of three different types of potato chips (Lays regular, Lays with ridges, and Lays Kettle – low fat version).  Each table received all three types of chips.  Students evaluated the chips first on appearance, then on crispiness, and finally by taste.  We discussed why producers would offer a variety of options for consumers and who the target markets may be.

This free form goes with a fun lesson that uses potato chips to teach economics concepts.

After the taste test was over, students divided the chips up and prepared to watch a couple of Lays commercials.  The first one was from 2015.

The second one was from 1992.

We had a very interesting conversation comparing and contrasting the commercials and discussing different marketing techniques.  This conversation turned into a discussion on how advertisers try to influence the consumers’ purchasing decisions.  We ended this lesson with a quick write.  Students brainstormed their own ideas for a commercial to go with their favorite type of chip from our test.

Since time was limited, we did this quickly on the back of the worksheet.  Next year, I may spread this lesson out over two days to allow more time for discussion, brainstorming, and writing.

If you are interested in using this form in your classroom, click on the link below for a free download.

Thank you!

Teaching blogger for elementary teachers

Mary Wingert, licensed educator (K-12 Special Ed. & 1-8 General Ed)

I started teaching in 1993.   I have taught special education, fifth grade, and fourth grade.  I moved to second grade in 2015, and I am still there today.  

I believe in teaching strategies that are effective, differentiated, and engaging. I am looking forward to building a community of teachers who feels the same!  Read more here.