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[Although many students do not receive allowances most receive money to spend on themselves.] Have each student estimate personal spending for one week. Include milk and lunch money, allowance or earnings spent on school supplies, food, clothes, etc. Include only money that students actually spend themselves (not money spent "on" them). It will be necessary to discuss approximation and estimation skills. Your class will need to understand what "average spending per week" means, as well. You may want to have students keep a spending log for a week to verify their estimates.
Once everyone has computed their estimated average weekly spending, organize the results in a table, and have the class fill in their own personal record sheets. Have each student compute the class total for a week and multiply by 52 to find the yearly consumer power. Encourage the use of calculators for these computations.
This problem clearly demonstrates the usefulness of gathering statistics in order to investigate an everyday occurrence. Your class (and you) may be surprised at the amount of purchasing power in the twelve- through fourteen-year-old segment of our society. (TV advertisers would not be surprised, however.) The results of this problem can provide the basis for a most interesting values clarification activity to help students make responsible decisions in the marketplace.
After using the process described in the initial activity above, distribute catalogs containing popular items such as clothing or videos, and have students determine how their income can or cannot support their desires. Students can also plan for item purchases through savings.
Reprinted, by permission, from Solving problems kids care about by Randall Souviney. Copyright 1981 by Scott, Foresman and Company.
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