Mathematics & EconomicsMath and Econ HeaderNational Council on Economic Education
Connections for Lifetable bgGrades 3-5Grades 6-8Grades 9-12


Why Teach Mathematics and Economics Together?

Teaching mathematics in today’s elementary classroom can be both exciting and challenging for an elementary teacher. It can be exciting because we are experiencing a wonderful evolution in mathematics education that recognizes the importance of teaching mathematics in a hands-on, dynamic and applied way. This approach makes learning mathematics fun for teacher and student alike.

Teaching mathematics for an elementary teacher can also be a challenge because the mathematics that should be taught today includes much more than the simple arithmetic that we adults may have experienced in our elementary classrooms.

In the elementary classroom of today, mathematics is a dynamic discipline basic to our information society and includes essential processes such as problem solving, reasoning, communication, connections and representation. (Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, Reston, Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000). Mathematics and Economics: Connections for Life Grades 3- 5 book helps an elementary teacher strive for thoughtful and creative mathematics instruction by providing 12 model lessons for grades 3 through 5 that give students a great context — economics — for learning mathematics.

Recent research on mathematics education continues to confirm that teaching mathematics in the context of an application is highly effective and that significant, worthwhile and grade-level appropriate content can have considerable influence on student learning. (Iris R. Weiss and Joan D. Pasley, "What is High- Quality Instruction?" Educational Leadership, February 2004, pp. 24-28). Primary factors associated with effective lessons were student engagement and interaction with the content.

As it does in many sciences, the discipline of mathematics quite naturally represents a "language" for economics. Economics depends on mathematics to represent relationships, solve problems, and communicate ideas effectively. This real-world context provides a great opportunity for elementary teachers to teach their students current mathematics, while simultaneously offering their students a chance to learn some of the fundamental concepts of economics. Thus, the lessons in this book will help teachers illustrate to their students the real power of mathematics in our world.

Economics teaches students how to be wise producers and consumers, lessons they will use throughout their lives. Although the focus of these lessons is teaching mathematics within the context of economics, the teaching of economics is itself essential. Forty-eight states now have curriculum standards at the elementary level requiring that students be taught economics. Teachers often weave economics concepts into the material of other subjects as they seek to fulfill the responsibility to address their district’s elementary curriculum. Not only do the lessons in this book teach mathematics in a compelling way, they are also exciting and relevant approaches to teaching economics concepts that students will use for a lifetime.

The lessons have been designed by master teachers, reviewed by content experts, piloted in elementary classrooms and published with a careful attention to the potential excitement and utility of blending instruction for these two disciplines. All lessons include hands-on activities, encourage class discussions and provide many effective questions teachers can use to review and deepen student understanding. All lessons, even the fanciful, are grounded in familiar activities relevant to the everyday lives of students.

Each lesson includes a Web address for all of the activities and visuals ready to print, further connections to other disciplines, additional suggestions for mathematics and economics activities for students, and links to interesting information and resources. Most of all, students will be excited by these creative activities and that will excite teachers as well.

Neal Grandgenett
Professor of Mathematics Education
University of Nebraska-Omaha

Kim Sosin
Professor of Economics
University of Nebraska-Omaha



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