Financial Reporting Homework Assignments:
The Sod Buster's Dilemma:
This is the U.S. History lecture that started it all. First we build a sod house (with lots of math). Then we made our farmer successful enough to borrow money and buy himself a new-fangled steam tractor, -with a little discussion of the industrial revolution and economies of scale. Then we collapsed the price of wheat and foreclosed on the poor sod-buster.
The Cotton Plantation vs. the Weaving Mill:
We build two businesses with two balance sheets, -the capitol intensive factory in the north and the labor intensive plantation in the south. I ask a lot of "What do you suppose an X costs?" and ask them to guess if a X is more or less expensive then a new Mercedes or their house. I also ask them to think about how much a farm worker earns today and how much one might have been paid in 1850, -if he were paid at all. An interesting introduction to slavery and the Civil War.
Family Profit and Loss:
I would assign this lesson only after the class had made significant progress in understanding the various types of expenses -fixed / committed and variable etc. There is some valid concern that this lesson is too a bit too "nosey" so I stress that they may make up categories and amounts as they see fit. Ideally, -if for example I were to have your classroom for more then a day, I would teach them compounding interest calculations and how savings mount-up.
Historic Balance Sheets:
If -for example- we did the balance sheet on the sod farmer, and then turned to the 49'ers, I would assign them to draw up a balance sheet for a prospector. The cost of a burro, pick and shovel and pair of Levi's for example. This assignment works for a lot of historic compare and contrast types of thinking.