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Teaching concepts in economics can often be a challenging task, as it’s not always easy to capture the attention of students and make abstract ideas come to life. However, with a little creativity and some engaging activities, you can transform a potentially dry subject into an exciting and memorable learning experience. When students are having fun, they better retain all they’ve learned.
In this article, we’re going to explore some fun and engaging activities to teach the factors of production. There’s “land”, which includes the physical land and all natural resources used in the production process. Also “labor” refers to human effort and skills applied throughout production. Then “capital” represents the tools and machinery used in the process and lastly “entrepreneurship”is the innovative ability to combine land, labor and capital to create and manage a business.
Let’s dive into these activities!
Activity #1: The Candy Factory
Turn your classroom into a candy factory to demonstrate the concept of land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship. Here’s how you can run this activity:
- Land: Begin by discussing the land and natural resources needed for the factory and candy production, such as the space, utilities, and location. Then, have students mark off sections in the classroom that represent different types of land. Use tape to create a “raw materials” land, a “building” land, and a “retail space” land. Use classroom objects like pencils, erasers, and paper, to represent the raw materials used to make candy, like sugar and candy wrappers. In online classes, you can draw all of this on an interactive whiteboard.
- Labor: Have students take on different roles within the candy factory, such as factory workers, marketers, and salespeople. Emphasize the importance of each role and how it contributes to the production process. You can have each student attend a mock interview as one of these roles and describe their skills regarding how they can contribute to the candy industry.
- Capital: Arrange the desks to create the machinery for the candy production. You can pass the raw materials (e.g. erasers and papers) through it and have some students pretend to be factory workers to create the final product – candy. Discuss what kinds of tools and infrastructure are essential for this production process.
- Entrepreneurship: Have the whole class be entrepreneurs and discuss how to combine the other factors of production to generate profit. Brainstorm a list of ideas and have the class vote on their favorites.
Activity #2: Use a movie, like Monsters Inc., to demonstrate the idea of factors of production.
You can use any movie that involves a factory or the production of a good or service of some sort. It could be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or any other movie that you like and fits the criteria. Watch the movie together with your students and then have them discuss in groups how the four factors of production are demonstrated in the movies. Taking the example of Monsters Inc., your students will likely draw the following parallels to the economic concepts of land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship.
- Land (Natural Resources): In the monster world, “land” takes on a unique perspective. Instead of traditional natural resources like land, water, and minerals, the monsters rely on doors to the human world to harvest their primary source of energy – screams by children, later replaced by laughter. The factory where the doors are processed serves as their physical land and the screams and laughter are the natural resources.
- Labor: Labor in Monsters Inc. comes in the form of scarers, including the film’s protagonists, Mike and Sulley. Scarers are the monsters trained to enter the human world through the doors and collect scream energy. The movie showcases the dedication and skills required in the labor force as they aim to extract as much scream energy as possible. The scarers’ individual talent and hard work play a crucial role in meeting the factor’s energy production goals. Their labor is directly related to the success of the company. Other labor includes the management, maintenance crew, and researchers who work to ensure the efficient functioning of the factory.
- Capital: The physical capital includes the factory itself, the scream canisters, and the technology needed to process the collected scream energy. The doors are also a form of physical capital, as they represent a significant investment for the company.
- Entrepreneurship: Waternoose represents the concept of entrepreneurship in the movie, and later Sulley when he takes over as CEO. Throughout most of the movie, Waternoose is the leader who seeks to ensure long-term success of Monsters Inc., even if it means taking ethically questionable decisions (like the scream extractor). His character highlights the role of leadership and decision-making in the production process.
Activity #3: Shark Tank Challenge
Turn your classroom into the set of a “Shark Tank” episode and put students in groups to come up with business ideas and pitch them to a panel of “sharks”. This activity emphasizes the importance of entrepreneurship and how entrepreneurs tie together the concepts of land, labor and capital.
- Each group must decide on a product or service they want to pitch to the sharks.
- In their presentation, they must include all factors of production – land, labor, capital – and convince the “sharks” how these factors will work together to be transformed into a successful product or service.
- The “sharks” can be yourself and other classmates.
We hope you enjoyed these ideas and that they’ve inspired you to use more engaging activities in your classes. When teaching any subject, fun and interactive activities will always help students remember the concepts much better than the old fashioned PowerPoint presentation. What do you think of these ideas for teaching factors of production in economics? Let us know in the comments below!