I realize it is a few short days before winter break. You may not read this post until doing a search for lesson plans for supply and demand or if you decide to use my book in your classroom or home school program, and you are looking for lesson ideas. But either way, you can use Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg to teach supply and demand concepts.
The first place to do this would be with the fact that throughout the story, Grant and the Yankees are blocking supplies from getting to the citizens of Vicksburg. They are running out of everything. They are using substitutes instead of the real product: acorns instead of coffee grinds, sassafras for tea, berry juice for ink, and wallpaper for newspaper. When Mrs. Lohrs brings six apples over to the Franklins after Anna’s ma was hit by the shell, everyone is pleased and happy–about 6 apples. Can you imagine kids being excited about that today? So, that’s one thing you can ask children while reading this book–why was Anna happy about a gift of apples? The discussion should lead children to realize that when supplies are low, demand is high. When food is low–especially fresh food–then demand for it is high, and people will be excited about getting a gift of fruits and vegetables.
Then you can go on to the more economic lesson of what happens when there is a low supply and a high demand. In Finding My Place, this is addressed with the discussion about the prices at the General Store. Prices for almost all supplies are up–Mrs. Franklin talks about how it’s unfair and wrong, but that’s what happens when the supply for goods is down or low. You can ask children to think about popular gifts at Christmas time–like the newest video game system. When it is first out and there are a limited amount and NO ONE HAS ONE YET, demand is high and prices are high. As people buy them and they become more common and new systems are made, the demand is lower, the supply is still there, and so the price goes down.
In Finding My Place, you can even address how the price of goods being high creates tension and bad feelings and was probably the reason for someone setting fire to the General Store, which by the way did actually happen during the Siege.
When using books to teach a concept such as supply and demand, start with the events in the book and get students to discuss them–since they are already interested in the characters and the story. Then always try to find similar examples from the real world that students can relate to.
If you are reading this post during December–happy holidays to you and here’s to a great New Year in 2013.
PS: Also, there’s still time to win Angela Shelton’s mg, fantasy book: The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton (contest closes on 12/23) by going here.