How to Teach About Rent

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Our next topic in the Consumer Math Blog Series is about how to teach Rent. Read more about why and how you can teach Rent using my Rent Lesson Unit (click here to get your copy).

Purpose of Teaching Rent
Most of the students who want to live outside their family home will end up renting, that is what is typical in the area where I teach. However, that didn’t stop students from saying they wanted to go on vacation, go to college, and then buy a house. In all honesty, I still rent and I’m a grown, salaried adult. I think teaching about renting is important because students may/will want to live away from their family one day, have more freedom, and be in charge of their own schedule. Showing them that it is possible is worth its weight in confidence!
Key-Must-Teach Concepts
Lease- It’s an agreement. It’s a rule book. It’s a legal document. If your students would struggle to understand the legalese speak in the document, then encourage them to have someone look over to make sure they understand everything.
Security Deposit. One thing that I didn’t realize when I started renting was how I needed to save the funds for both a security deposit (which can be as much as 2 months rent in my area) AND the 1st month’s rent. That amount can be very large, depending on the area where you teach.
Lesson Objective
Identify 2 local apartments for rent within a specific budget.
Lesson Unit Break Down
Day 1- Kick off the week’s lesson with a brain teaser, it is so interesting to me to hear what student’s say in response. Move to the visual flow chart to introduce the topic for the week and then jump right into the reading. The Reading Passage is chock full of vocabulary and concepts. Use my Reading Passage suggestion (below), then move on to the Writing prompts and T/F questions.
Day 2- Surprise- another day of notes! Since you aren’t surprised, I’ll keep this light! Day 2 is dedicated to laying the groundwork for the rest of the week. It gives the basic vocabulary definitions and begins to outline the skills that the students will be practicing.
Day 3- The first part of the lesson is to help students identify what would/is important to them in a rental. The Rental Priorities worksheet outlines potential rental features and has students identify what they would prefer their space to have as they begin to search for a place to rent. I would recommend reviewing what each of these means before diving in!
The second part includes using the internet to begin the search for an apartment. is a great option for my area, but you can use,, or other local website (depending how large or rural your community is). Students start searching with the intent of finding a space that meets their previously listed priorities.
Day 4- This activity is intended for independent practice. Students will use the Finding an Apartment worksheet to guide them through reading an apartment listing, using the internet to find 3 potential spaces, then narrowing down their options to just one.
Again, the students will need access to the internet. There is also an Exit Slip and this can be used on Day 3 or Day 4, whichever day has a few minutes at the end of class for a comprehension check!
Day 5- Lastly, the students will spend their time reviewing using task cards (see my suggestion below), completing an assessment and functional math review, and then a fun and simple word search.
Reading Passage Option
Like I mentioned earlier, the Reading Passage is a dense one! To help your students digest the information, I suggest breaking out the highlighters or markers to use while you read. Students can start by reading the passage on their own, then read it aloud as a class or you, the teacher, can read; either way, students should highlight the sentences that they think are ‘important information.’ Ideally, they will highlight the bolded vocabulary terms and the explanation of those terms. Using the highlighter now will help to find the information later in the week or if they complete any of the curriculum Projects.
Listen and Learn
A Listen & Learn is a short, 5 sentence PowerPoint/Google presentation that introduces the topic using visuals and audio. Ideal for non-readers! Read about what they are and how they might be right for your classroom here.
Task Card Idea
I find that students are more energized by this Renting lesson than most, mainly because I think it is something that is of high interest and importance to them, so now is a time to make this review fun!
If you have a big enough classroom space, place 8 desks/chairs against one wall (facing the wall, preferably). Tape the odd number task cards questions on the desks. Then, tape the other 8 even number task cards on the opposite wall. Students will move in order through the cards, even if everyone starts at a different number, and they will move at the same pace. Therefore, you will need to give a set amount of time. I like to give around 1 minute to read and answer, then everyone switches. Students will be zig zagging the room and alternate between sitting and standing. Unique movement keeps things fun!
Further Practice Idea
If you are able to hop on a bus- Then coordinate with a local apartment complex and take your students on a tour. Ask that the apartment complex representative explain everything about the space, the lease agreement, the utilities that are included, everything!
If you are not able to hop a bus- Then find a lease agreement (yours, a friend, or family members) and remove the personal information and make a copy for each student. Read through this document as a class, explain what every part means, give examples of each tricky section. This thorough review will help students to understand the gravity of the decision to rent a space.
Ultimate Goal of the Lesson Unit
Renting provides freedom, renting provides opportunities to exercise independence, and renting provides a long list of responsibilities. The hope is that students come away from this lesson understanding how to narrow down and find an apartment that is right for them and within their budget. Possessing the ‘rent finding’ skill will make the idea of finding their own place (in the future) a little less scary.
May I Also Suggest Teaching
It is key to also teach about Budgeting (since staying within a budget when renting is critical to staying afloat) and Income (because a renter MUST have a source of income to afford the rent).
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