- Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade
- Social Studies
- 55 minutes
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In this cooperative economics activity, students learn about the division of labor in a real way. Students will be able to see first hand the advantages and disadvantages of the division of labor.
Students will be able to determine the advantages and disadvantages of division of labor.
Introduction (5 minutes)
- Ask your students to think about their favorite restaurant. Have students identify what the different jobs are that people have there.
- Ask students to think of what would happen if one person had to do all of those jobs.
- Tell students that there is something called division of labor, where people specialize in one particular job. To specialize means to receive training and become very good at a job or skill.
- Explain that students will be seeing the idea of division of labor in action today.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (20 minutes)
- Tell students that they will be working in a bookmark making factory.
- Split the class into groups of 4-5.
- Hand out the Bookmark Making Instructions (Do It Yourself) worksheet to each group, as well as one of each of the materials (spool of ribbon, scissors, ruler, pair of scissors, markers, pack of stickers, and stack of bookmarks).
- Remind students that each worker must do his or her job on their own!
- Give students five minutes to work. After five minutes, have students stop. Hand out the Division of Labor worksheet. As a class, tally how many bookmarks each group made when each student was working alone.
- Next, hand out the Bookmark Making Instructions (Division of Labor) worksheet to each group. If there are five students in a group, the tasks of worker 2 can be shared between two students.
- Give students five minutes to work. After five minutes, have students stop. Once again, tally how many bookmarks each group made now that the students used division of labor.
Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (15 minutes)
- Have students discuss the following questions with their group: How did the quantity of bookmarks change when division of labor was introduced? How did the quality of bookmarks change when division of labor was introduced? How could division of labor help a company make money? What problems could division of labor bring to a company?
- After allowing students to discuss these questions, talk about them as a whole class.
Independent Working Time (5 minutes)
- Have students complete the bottom portion of the Division of Labor worksheet independently.
- Enrichment: Have students research Henry Ford's assembly line and share with the class how his company used division of labor.
- Support: Have these students take notes during the discussion time that can be used to help them with the bottom portion of the worksheet.
Assessment (5 minutes)
- Use the bottom portion of the worksheet to determine students' understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the division of labor.
- Some advantages might be: more products are produced (more money for the company) and people become very good at one job so they produce a better good or service. Some disadvantages might be: people may become bored with their job and could become careless and it could be difficult to fill the skilled worker's position if they cannot come to work one day.
Review and Closing (5 minutes)
- Have students think about the following question and share their thoughts with the class: If you were a business owner, would you use division of labor? Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?