Capitalism Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Help students understand capitalism with the help of this lesson plan. Students will read a text lesson that explains capitalism and how it compares to socialism, then do a fun activity applying ideas from the lesson to real-world situations.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'capitalism'
  • compare capitalism and socialism
  • describe how capitalism works in their current lives


  • 60-90 minutes for the core instruction and first round of the game
  • An additional 30-45 minutes for the second round of the game during another class period


Key Vocabulary

  • Socialism
  • Capitalism

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.1

Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.2

Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3

Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Start the lesson by dividing students into two large groups. Separate the groups so they cannot see one another.
  • Tell the first group they will be setting out cookies as a snack for the class. Give them the cookies and napkins and allow them to work.
  • Tell the second group the same thing, but give this group cookies, icing, sprinkles and other toppings, plastic knives, and napkins. Allow them to decorate cookies and set them out, then make fun signs to describe cookies using the markers and paper.
  • Have the two groups bring their cookies to a table in the front of the room and set out, then tell students to have a seat.
  • Ask:
    • If you were in a store, which cookies would you rather purchase? Why?
    • What is better about the icing cookies? What about the signs?
  • Tell students they just participated in a social experiment on capitalism. Share prior knowledge on the topic, then allow students to eat (both kinds of) cookies. Give students who didn't have a chance to decorate cookies time to do so now.

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