What Resources Do I Have?

Keystone Principle #8 – Quantity and Quality of Resources Impact Living Standards

Voluntary National Content Standards: #1, #6, #13, #14, #15


Young students may struggle with understanding a concept as large as growing the economy, but they will intuitively understand the idea that by developing and improving parts of themselves they can grow as a human being.  As they progress in their economic understanding they will discover that growing and strengthening themselves works the same way as the economy.  On a personal level, it is not a “zero-sum game”; we do not have to stop exercising because we improve our nutrition.  We improve our overall health by doing both!  Here are some ideas for these personal connections:

  • Physical Growth
    • On a personal level, we try to find the right mix of nutrition, sleep and exercise for ourselves.
    • Our economy grows physically also, through infrastructure, investment in plant and equipment, and by finding new technology to improve the way we produce and utilize things.
  • Attitude
    • On a personal level, we grow as people when we care about others, establish friendships and develop self-control.
    • Our economy grows by practicing self-control on a national level by looking at long-term solutions and development.  Just as with individuals, a focus on short-term gratification can impede economic growth.  Also, although economies do not establish “friendships” the way individuals do, they do create trading partnerships that enable both parties to become better off.
  • Intellectual Growth
    • We learn new things on a daily basis.  By being open to new thoughts and by enthusiastically embracing new situations, we can expand our personal horizons and opportunities.
    • Our economy grows as the workforce improves its knowledge base and its skill set (which is also known as human capital).
  • Integrity
    • Integrity in general refers to the quality of a person’s character.  It is a complex term.  It connotes the ability to behave in a manner consistent with the values, beliefs and principles people claim to have.  It is a helpful exercise for students to reflect on whether the things theydo are consistent with the things they say.
    • Our economy can grow as we maintain the integrity of our institutions.  For example, laws that are just and fairly enforced; financial institutions that are transparent; and the fostering of a national culture of trust and cooperation.


I. Understanding

There are four “factors of production” that affect what individuals and nations can produce:

  • Natural resources (land)
  • Human resources (labor)
  • Capital resources (equipment)
  • Entrepreneurship (risk, profit motive)

Over time, living standards rise by improving the quality or increasing the quantity of one or more of the four factors.

There are two ways for any given sector of an economy to grow – by taking from one sector and adding it to another, or by growing the economy as a whole with all sectors participating in that growth (although not necessarily equally).

Stagnant economies face serious difficulties as the various sectors within must compete with each other if they try to enlarge their share. This exerts a de-stabilizing pressure on the economy and the society as a whole.

In contrast, all sectors can grow if we can have a bigger and more efficient economy.  An expanding economy allows citizens to increase their individual living standard without adversely affecting others.  This can be accomplished in many different ways.

  • Natural resources grow with:
    • Improved agricultural procedures, such as crop rotation, soil conservation and irrigation, can improve both quantity and quality.
    • The replanting of forests increases quantity.
    • Removing pollutants from our nation’s waterways improves quality.
  • Human resources improve with:
    • Greater availability of quality education and training.
    • Immigration enlarges quantity.
    • Removal of age, race, gender and other barriers to employment to improve both quantity and quality.
  • Capital resources progress with:
    • Technological advances, such as the Internet which improves both quality and quantity.
    • Scientific research which improves both quantity and quality.
  • Entrepreneurship expands with:
    • Recognition of private property rights including patents and copyrights which improves both quantity and quality.
    • Access to financial markets (such as banks and the stock and bond markets).
    • Targeted taxation and regulation impact the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship.

II. Skills

Students will be able to:

  • Define vocabulary.
  • Identify the four factors of production.
  • Explain two ways for any given sector of an economy to grow.
  • Explain how each of the four factors of production contributes to economic growth.


I. Concept Vocabulary

  • Capital Resources– Resources made and used to produce and distribute goods and services; examples include tools, machinery and buildings. Also known as equipment.
  • Entrepreneurship – A characteristic of people who assume the risk of organizing productive resources to produce goods and services; a resource.
  • Factors of Production – Productive resources; what is required to produce the goods and services that people want; natural resources, human resources, capital resources and entrepreneurship.
  • Human Resources – The health, education, experience, training, skills and values of people. Also known as human capital or labor.
  • Natural Resources – “Gifts of nature” that can be used to produce goods and services; for example, oceans, air, mineral deposits, virgin forests and actual fields of land. When investments are made to improve fields of land or other natural resources, those resources become, in part, capital resources.  Also sometimes referred to as land.

II. Journals

Initial Prompt (to be done during the introduction of this monthly theme/principle):

  • What are you good at?
  • What resources do you use at home to help out around the house?
  • What resources do you use in the classroom or in sports?
  • Have you ever tried to start you own business?  What did you have to do and what made it successful (or not successful)?

General assignment:

Choose one or two of the quotations and write a journal entry of at least half a page. For K-2nd grades, you may do this exercise as part of a discussion. Or, ask the students to draw an illustration of a quotation or the monthly theme/principle.

  1. Restate the idea in your own words
  2. Say whether or not you agree with the statement,
  3. Explain why you agree or disagree
  4. Discuss how you have seen it expressed in your own life.

III. Quotations:

  1. “Life is constantly providing us with new funds, new resources, even when we are reduced to immobility. In life’s ledger there is no such thing as frozen assets.”  Henry Miller
  2. “Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.”  Daniel Webster
  3. “The poor tread lightest on the earth. The higher our income, the more resources we control and the more havoc we wreak.” Paul Harrison
  4. “People mix up entrepreneurship with risk-taking… An entrepreneur is a risk-minimizer, an opportunity seeker.”  Peter Farrell
  5. “Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking.”  Anita Roddick
  6. “Entrepreneurship is a state of mind, a can-do attitude, a capacity to focus on a vision and work toward it.”  Barry Rogstad
  7. “The upside is the culture of entrepreneurship that comes from education and the belief in opportunities. It creates a very optimistic outlook.”  Ian Bremmer
  8. “What is worrisome about that is the U.S. standard of living. I think it is very difficult to envision our standard of living being preserved if we’re in an economy where all people do is flip hamburgers, wait on people in stores and sue each other. It’s not much of a basis for an economy.”  Wilbur Ross
  9. “Each of us will one day be judged by our standard of life — not by our standard of living; by our measure of giving — not by our measure of wealth; by our simple goodness — not by our seeming greatness.”  William Arthur Ward
  10. “Ever since man began to till the soil and learned not to eat the seed grain but to plant it and wait for the harvest, the postponement of gratification has been the basis of a higher standard of living and civilization.”  S. I. Hayakawa


Give the students hands-on opportunities to learn about growing the four factors of production that make up the economy.

Factors of Production:

  1. Divide a piece of paper into four quadrants.
  2. Label each quadrant with a productive resource heading:
    1. Capital
    2. Human
    3. Natural
    4. Entrepreneurship
  3. Have students draw examples of each type of resource (lower elementary).  Invite students to share their work and explain their illustrations.
  4. Have students list examples of each type of resource (upper elementary).  Or divide the class up into teams of four or five and have the groups compete with one another to see who can up with the most examples of each type of resource in five minutes.  Have individuals or groups share their results and identify unique examples.

Natural Resources

  • One way to enlarge our supply of natural resources is to focus on conservation.  Have students discuss orally or in writing how a K-5 student can grow the resource pie of the family by initiating a program of making sure that all family members turn off the water while brushing their teeth, shaving, or in between the washing of each dish.  Do an experiment in class having a student brush teeth while the water is running into a gallon milk jug.  Have the students compute the annual amount of wasted water for their own family if they leave the water running.  Assume each family member will brush their teeth twice a day and compute that number (2 times the number of family members).  Multiply that number by 365 days a year.  For older students, you can ascertain the cost per gallon of water in your community to also determine the amount of money that could be saved.
  • Again with an emphasis on conservation, consider establishing a composting project in your classroom.  You can find lots of help for this from the Internet.  You may even want to use this information to start a gardening project for your class! Here are a few sites to get you started:

Human Resources

  • Education is arguably the most important opportunity to improve a nation’s human resources.  Encourage your students to recognize the daily relevance of all the new skills they are learning in your classroom.
  • Pair your classroom with another classroom in a different grade.  Structure the teamwork so that each student has an opportunity to be both a teacher and a learner within this context.  Teaching another person a skill one has learned is the surest way to clarify and retain that skill in one’s own mind.  This can also afford an opportunity to emphasize cooperation and problem solving skills between groups.
  • Infusionomics™ has a number of good project ideas under the “Good Stuff” heading.  These projects are designed to provide your students with a wide variety of hands-on activities to build their confidence and equip them with practical skills they will use for many years to come.


If you want to involve your students’ parents in some of these activities, you may find some useful ideas in How Parents Can Help, also on the Powell Center website.

Monthly Teaching Theme Assessments are available by subscribing to the Infusionomics program. To subscribe, please call 720-425-1642.