2. Give students something to touch. The main reason inflation exists is because the government prints too much money while the production of goods stays the same. Too many dollars chasing too few goods causes prices to increase and the buying power of the dollar to decrease. This can be a difficult concept to understand. The story of hyperinflation in places like Zimbabwe can be instructive. Since the value of the Zimbabwe dollar fell so quickly, the government had to print ever larger denominations. The largest denomination of currency ever issued was a Z$100 trillion bill in 2009. Before then, the country had similar dollar denominations to the United States. Today, a Z$50 billion note can be purchased for just a few U.S. dollars on eBay and elsewhere. Allowing students to see and touch these bills helps drive the lesson on inflation.
3. Demonstrate the effects. Inflation is a tax on people who save and invest and can have detrimental effects on long-term investing for things like retirement. Since most high school students are five decades away from retirement, it’s important to give them a way to visualize this concept today. One way to do this is to fill a large jar with pennies and mark where the pennies reach in the jar. Every day remove some pennies to account for inflation. Over the course of the semester, students can see the jar empty.
In addition to these tips, digital storytelling using multimedia from sitcoms, cartoons, animations, and other sources can help engage students and illustrate essential concepts. Free digital economics course packages can be excellent sources.
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