The Little Red Hen

Image of Little Red Hen book

Little Red Hen

The 6 Core Economic Principles in: The Little Red Hen

Have you ever worked hard on a project and found that no one would help you? Then when you got it all done, suddenly everyone wanted to participate, or use your creation? You have something in common with the Little Red Hen! You can download a free copy of the original Little Red Hen at Project Gutenburg to use in this lesson.
The Little Red Hen is a perfect story to use with the Economics Way of Thinking. For example, you can ask these questions, based on the 6 Core Economic Principles, during your read-aloud with students:
1) People Choose: What does the Little Red Hen want? What productive resources are limited? (human resources, people to help) What is scarce? (help from the other characters) What do the other characters decide to do when the Little Red Hen asks for help?
2) All Choices Involve Costs: What were the costs to the Little Red Hen when nobody would help? What were the benefits to the other characters? (they could play) What were the costs to the other characters? (She did not let them eat the bread). Compare the ending of the classic story to the ending in The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza.
Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza book cover

Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza

3) People Respond to Incentives: If the Little Red Hen had offered the other characters some bread at the beginning of the story (as an incentive to work) do you think they would have helped? Compare this to the ending of The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza. If offered pizza, would you help clean up?
4) Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices and Incentives: What was the Little Red Hen’s rule of allocating her scarce resource of bread in the original story? What was produced? How was it produced? For whom was it produced? What did the Little Red Hen do in The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza when she made too much pizza? (in this case, the pizza was not scarce. There was too much pizza and she needed characters to help her eat!)
5) Voluntary Trade Creates Wealth: What specialized jobs did the Little Red Hen take on in the story? How could the characters have gained if they each specialized in a different job and helped make the bread?
6) The Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future: In the Little Red Hen, what were the consequences of for the other characters when they did not help make the bread? Do you think they would make a different choice the next time? Now compare this story to Cook-a-Doodle-Doo. What happens when everyone helps with the cooking?
Cook-a-Doodle-Do Image of book cover


Extra Ideas:
Visit EconEdLink to view a Flash Story of the Little Red Hen and a lesson plan on economics.
This Florida DOE lesson plan-includes stick puppets you could use to have students put on their own play about the Little Red Hen. Students can film their puppet plays and edit them using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. See the Technology Tips section for ideas on how to use digital editing software!

About Deborah Kozdras

Instructor and Chief Creative Officer at the Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education at the University of South Florida.
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