JA Our Nation

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5thgrProgram Overview 

Through hands-on classroom activities, JA Our Nation® introduces Fifth-Grade students to the intersection of work readiness and upper-elementary grades social studies learning objectives. The program provides practical information about America’s free market system and how it serves as an economic engine for businesses and careers. The curriculum also introduces the need for entrepreneurial and innovative thinking to meet the requirements of high-growth, high-demand careers and explores the concept of globalization in business.

Following participation in the program, students will be able to:

  • Identify the characteristics of a free market economy.
  • Define entrepreneurship and explore the process of innovation.
  • Understand that businesses need people with technical skills to support high-growth, high-demand jobs.
  • Explore how the United States is tied to the global economy.

Session Overviews & Objectives 

Session One – Free to Choose Your Work or Business

Overview: Students examine how the free market system serves as an economic engine for businesses and careers.


  • Identify the characteristics of a free market economy.
  • Explain how pricing guides economic decisions.

Session Two – Innovation Nation

Overview: Students experience how entrepreneurial thinking can spur new businesses and the opportunity for future income.


  • Define entrepreneur and entrepreneurship.
  • Describe resources and how business use them.
  • Explore STEM skills and the process of innovation.

Session Three – Career Quest

Overview: Students learn about career clusters and the background necessary for a variety of careers.


  • Examine career groupings and the skills necessary for different occupations.

Session Four – Get and Keep the Job!

Overview: Students examine occupational skills needed for a successful career.


  • Identify the soft skills wanted by today’s employers.

Session Five – Global Connections

Overview: Students explore how our nation is connected to the global economy.


  • Explain why businesses specialize and trade.
  • Define opportunity cost.

Supplemental Session – Business Organization

Overview: This session further explores entrepreneurship and free enterprise. It is an optional session for the volunteer or the teacher to present. Students explore three ways that a business is organized.


  • Identify the three basic ways businesses are organized.

Program Basics

  • Includes a series of five sessions recommended for students in fifth grade.
  • Average time for each session is 45 minutes.
  • Materials are packaged in a self-contained kit that includes detailed plans for the volunteer and materials for 32 students.
  • Introduces the concepts of free market economy, entrepreneurship, innovation, career clusters and the global economy.
  • Session-specific, age-appropriate materials included to increase student interaction and emphasize JA’s experiential approach to learning.
  • Correlates well to state social studies, English, and math standards, as well as the Common Core State Standards in English/Language Arts and mathematics.

JA Our Nation enhances students’ learning of the following concepts and skills:

Concepts—Businesses, careers, career clusters, collaboration, communication, competition, competitor, consumer, critical thinking, engineering, employees, employers, entrepreneur, free market economy, global economy, goods and services, human capital, innovation, invention, interdependence, job specialization, opportunity cost, product, producer, profit, resume, skills, technology, work readiness

Skills—Analyzing occupations, analyzing information, brainstorming, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, decision making, estimating, following written instructions, interpersonal skills, interpreting economic issues, map reading, organizing information, prioritizing, problem solving, reasoning, speaking and listening, STEM skills, teamwork, working cooperatively, working in pairs, written communication

Training Videos

Courtesy of Junior Achievement of South Dakota: