Teaching Free Enterprise


Click on any topic for information and resources:

Time Well Spent

Do you know why the number 8760 is important? It’s the number of hours in a year. What if we thought about how much of our life it takes to buy something, like a carton of eggs or a house, instead of thinking about how many dollars it costs? This module explores an alternate way of thinking about the “cost” of any object: the effort that is “hidden” underneath a dollar bill. The session will also cover historical trends in productivity, how wealth is created in modern economies, and how technology increases quality and decreases price over time.

Economic Freedom of the World

The original and in some ways the central question of economics is: Why are some countries rich and others poor? Beyond being able to merely describe the differences, we want to understand how to make poor countries richer and rich countries better. Using this lesson plan and activities, teachers can guide students through the components of economic freedom and share many examples to illustrate these concepts. Topics include the “Rule of Law”; government size, costs and spending; regulatory efficiency; and the role of markets and trade.

Sweatshops and Opportunity Cost

One of the most controversial topics in economics but also one where the economic way of thinking is most clearly revealed. Why might an economist think that sweatshops could be good? Individuals work in places with working conditions we find hard to imagine and for pay we’d never even consider. In this module we’ll look at the concept of “opportunity cost,” the next best option that we all give up whenever we make a choice. Teachers will see how sweatshop conditions compare to the other options people in poor countries have and be invited to think about how having more “bad” options can be better than having less.

The Trade Game

Economists love to talk about trade. Why is that? The world is a chaotic place. Canadians want oranges in the middle of winter and have no way to efficiently grow them on their own. Trading is a way to encourage Florida orange grove owners to produce more than they, their family and friends could ever eat to give to people who are able to do other things. In the trade game, we’ll show teachers how to demonstrate some of the benefits of trade to their students and to think through questions like, “When is a trade a fair trade?” and “How can we increase the benefits that individuals in poor countries receive from being trading partners with rich countries?”

Please contact Terra Aquia at tvotaw@uca.edu for more information about ACRE’s curriculum offerings.



The Teaching Free Enterprise in Arkansas curriculum series was developed in partnership with ACRE, Economics Arkansas, and the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at Southern Methodist University (SMU.)