The American Dream: As 5th and 6th Graders See It

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How do you define the American Dream for yourself, your family, your community, nation, and world? Does your dream involve wealth and happiness? Is it related to your family, education, career? How about having a sense of peace, safety, security?

Here at Young Americans Center for Financial Education, we believe the American Dream is still alive and achievable. Lessons involving Free Enterprise, Investing, Philanthropy, and Community Caring & Sharing may help the students to more clearly identify the hopes they have for their futures. A study was done involving eight students to learn their interpretations of what the dream means to them. Here are some of their responses:

  1. “The American dream for me is that everyone would attend college on a scholarship.” –  J., 5th Grade
  2. “There would be a way for people to live their lives as they choose with nobody else to have a judgment on their choices… There would be freedom, rights, and liberty to practice their own religion.” – Luka, 6th grade
  3. “All would have a good job, a family, and everyone would have a house.” – Michael, 6th grade
  4. “We need to learn to stop using so much power. We use too much power and soon we will run out… We need to use our power to make positive changes.” – Ben, 5th Grade
  5. “Everyone would have somewhere to live, would be happy, and satisfied. There would be no struggle to get and maintain resources. It would be easier to get access to resources that meet their needs too.” – Karlee, 6th grade
  6. “My American dream is for the people of our country to be more active. If we stopped using cars, we would be more active and we would cut down on pollution.” –Colin, 5th Grade
  7. “There would be less war and countries would get along better.” – Ashlyn, 6th grade
  8. “With a good education, I wo
    Balloons welcomed guests to the Branch Grand Opening.

    Balloons welcomed guests to the Branch Grand Opening, 2013

    uld learn to run a business that would help others.” – Amen, 5th Grade

Our own founding father, Bill Daniels, was a believer in the American Dream. He backed free enterprise and was an entrepreneur himself. Bill Daniels read an article in the Denver Post about a group of students who wanted to go on an educational field trip with their school but couldn’t afford to attend. They went to a bank to apply for a loan, and were denied. He was appalled by this, and had a vision of a bank for kids! Since an entrepreneur is often a person who recognizes a problem and invents a solution to fix it, he epitomizes the American Dream in his creation of Young Americans Bank.

Teacher’s Tip: Ask your students about their definition of the American Dream.  Are there any inventors or entrepreneurs they admire? Did they have any relatives immigrate to the United States with hopes of a better future?  In their opinions, what makes America unique? These questions create an opportunity to discuss capitalism and government, as well as free enterprise. These concepts are introduced in Chapter 1 of the Young AmeriTowne curriculum, with lessons including “The Economic Process and the Free Enterprise System”, “Circular Flow Chart”, Choices & Decisions,” and “We Compete!”

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