Capitalism vs Socialism Lesson Plan for Middle School

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson will help your middle school students learn the difference between capitalism and socialism. Students will read a text lesson and participate in a debate about these types of economies.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Use content-specific vocabulary to describe economic systems.
  • Differentiate between capitalism and socialism.
  • Identify advantages and disadvantages of each of these economic systems.


This lesson will take 45-90 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


  • capitalism
  • economy
  • free market
  • socialism
  • supply and demand


Materials needed: chart paper, markers

To activate prior knowledge, have students create a T-chart on a sheet of paper. On one side, students will write 'Capitalism' on the other side, students will write 'Socialism.' Have students do a 5-minute quick write in which they create bulleted lists describing everything they know about these topics. Review student work as a class.

Read the text lesson Socialism vs. Capitalism Lesson for Kids as a class. Pause after the 'World Economic Systems' section to discuss:

  • What is an economy?
  • When someone says the economy is good or bad, what do they mean?

Read the 'Capitalism' section with the class. Pause to ask:

  • What are some examples of capitalism?
  • How does supply and demand work in a free market?
  • What are some advantages/disadvantages to capitalism?

Read the 'Socialism' section with the class. Pause to ask:

  • What are some examples of socialism?
  • How are prices determined in a socialist economy?
  • What are some advantages/disadvantages to socialism.

Read the remainder of the lesson with students.

Divide students into small groups. Provide each group with a set of materials. Have students work in their groups to create a Venn diagram comparing capitalist and socialist economies. Have each group present their work to the class.

Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.


Materials needed: computer/internet, index cards

Have students imagine they are establishing an economy for a new country that has just been established.

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