An Economics and Literature Lesson, Grades 4-6
Homer Price (The Doughnuts)
Copyright 1993. From Economics and Children's Literature, a manual of 45 lesson plans from SPEC Publishers, Inc,; 1006 Regency Manor Dr.; Ballwin, MO 63011, (314) 891-0043.
Permission to use provided by SPEC Publishers, Inc. St. Louis, Missouri.
by Robert McClosky
Scholastic Book Services
Lesson by Bonnie Meszaros
- capital resources, increasing productivity,
law of demand, quantity demand
- Language Arts:
- using reference materials, oral expression,
organizing and sequencing information
- The book, Homer Price, consists of six stories. In "The
Doughnuts," Homer's Uncle Ulysses's newest capital
resource, the doughnut machine, goes on a rampage making
hundreds of doughnuts. In the process of figuring out how
to sell the doughnuts, Homer helps a woman find her
bracelet which she lost in the doughnut machine.
- Capital Invention worksheet (below) for each student.
- Initiate a discussion about capital resources. Define capital
resources as machines and tools used in producing a good
or service. Capital resources can be used over again and are not
consumed or used up in the production process.
a. What types of machines do you or your family use at
home? (dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, garbage
disposal, food processor, blender)
b. What problems have you experienced with these
machines? (some break down or jam, don't know
how it works)
c. How have you solved the problems using these
machines? (called a repair person, read directions,
return to store)
- Explain students will read story about Homer Price, who had
a problem using a machine. Read "The Doughnuts" from
a. What was Homer's problem? (The doughnut
machine would not shut off.)
b. What other capital resources did Uncle Ulysses have
in his coffee shop? (automatic toaster, automatic
coffee maker, automatic dishwasher)
c. Why do you think Uncle Ulysses liked all these
machines? (They saved him time. He liked new
- Explain increasing productivity means increasing the
amount (output) produced using the same amount of
resources or producing the same amount with fewer
resources. Productivity also increases if more output can be
produced with fewer resources. For example, an automatic
dishwasher washes more dishes with fewer people working.
This is an increase in productivity.
a. How did Uncle Ulysses's equipment help to increase
the coffee shop's productivity? (produce more
coffee in less time and with fewer people)
b. What did Uncle Ulysses do with his extra time?
(played cards at the barber shop)
c. What else could he have done with this time?
(spend more time running his business)
- Ask students to describe what happened when Homer
lowered the price of fresh doughnuts? (People wanted to
buy more doughnuts.) Explain the law of demand states
that as price decreases, the quantity demanded (amount
people want to buy) increases. At higher prices, consumers
will buy less. For example, if the price of computer games
decreases, more people will want to buy computer games
(quantity demanded increases).
Note: This lesson focuses on the law of demand. In the
story, advertising and the $100 prize do not change the
quantity demanded. They change demand. Only a change
in price changes the quantity demanded.
- Distribute Capital Invention (below) to each student. Read the
directions and provide time for students to use the library
for their research. Schedule oral presentations.
- (Optional) Instruct students to select a tool or appliance
and write step-by-step instructions how to use it. Students
should bring the tool or appliance to school. Have students
exchange appliances or tools with the instructions. Tell
students to read the instructions and demonstrate how each
appliance or tool works.
Capital Invention worksheet:
Directions: Think of a capital resource someone has invented that increases productivity. Using
reference books to research details about this invention, use the following note cards to organize
information for a two-to three-minute oral report.
Note Card #1
Name of Invention ________________________________________________________
Year of Invention _________________________________________________________
Note Card #2
Purpose of Invention ___________________________________________________________
How It Increases Productivity ____________________________________________________
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