At the Shopping Mall


1. To encourage students to think about clothing/shopping from a "needs" perspective

2. To demonstrate creative ways to save money related to clothing/shopping

Subject Area

English Language Arts (K-12), Math (4-5), Science (1), Clothing and Textiles (5-8)


Introduce money management as it pertains to the shopping mall with the following discussion points:

  • How do students plan wardrobes?
  • How are buying decisions made? For example, "I need something" or "I really want a new…"
  • What does a clothing budget mean to the students? How is this budget made?
  • What encourages shopping? How does a store market clothing?
  • How do peers influence your clothing purchasing decisions?


Shop Smart

Length: Part 1 (45 minutes at school); Part 2 (at home); Part 3 (45 minutes at school)
Materials: Shop Smart Handout, flyers, catalogues, computer (optional)

Part 1 (At School): Clothing Wish List

  • In this part of the activity, students will put together a wish list of clothing items that they believe they will need for the school year or for a warm winter vacation. Using the Shop Smart Handout, students need to record their clothing wish list and then research and record the respective costs (total cost should also be indicated).

Part 2 (At Home): Clothing Inventory

  • In the second part of the activity, students will need to go home and record the details of their wardrobe (Clothing Inventory section of the Shop Smart Handout). Students will then record which of the clothes they actually wear, as well as which items they would be willing to trade.

Part 3 (At School): Clothing Budget

  • Once they have completed Part 2 of the activity, continue by telling students they need to cut their clothing wish list total by 50%. Brainstorm and discuss the relevant cost-saving techniques (need vs. want, second-hand clothing, trades or clothing swaps, etc.). Have students review their clothing wish list against their clothing inventory and see if they can eliminate any redundancies.


  • Set the guidelines for students to arrange a clothing swap with friends and/or family. The "trade" items from the Clothing Inventory section of the Shop Smart Handout may be included. Encourage students to keep track of the obstacles and benefits that arise from the swap.
  • Ask students to come up with other ways to manage their Clothing Inventory, such as buying and selling items at a garage sale or consignment store.

Collaborative Feedback

  • What were the pros and cons of the clothing swap? (Body image and style differences may be addressed here.)
  • How do money and clothing relate? How do money and clothing influence important issues such as identity and "fitting in"?
  • Tally up how much money was saved as a class after the wish lists were revised.

Teacher Tips

  • Organize a "discount" fashion show. Students will need to put together an outfit from discount or second-hand stores.
  • Discuss the idea of donating clothing (or lost and found items) to a charity.

Pre- and Post-Assessment of Lesson

  • How does planning ahead help you make clothing purchase decisions with your money?
  • How did planning ahead help you make clothing purchase decisions with your money?