K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Learning outcomes

  • Students will understand the value of delaying gratification. As an example, they will learn that college costs, but a lack of education is even more costly.

Teacher planning


Technology resources

  • Students will need to create a login on the CFNC website in order to complete all activities.


  1. Hand out the “Delayed Gratification” activity sheet.
  2. Tell students to turn to the activity handout and answer the three questions by circling A or B. Read the text in the activity and ask volunteers to share answers to the three open-ended questions at the bottom of the page.
  3. Ask your students to share additional examples of times when it might be appropriate to “delay gratification.”
  4. Ask students to find a partner and complete the activity on the second page. Tell your students that although they are collaborating, both partners should individually record the answers in their activities. Compare students’ answers after they have completed the activity. Option A would receive $12,000 total and Option B would receive $102,375 total. Emphasize that oftentimes, like the exercise shows, education can look less appealing in the short term, but pays off in many ways in the long term.
  5. Ask a volunteer to explain the significance of the “Average Lifetime Earnings” chart at the bottom of page 2.
    1. Emphasize that the numbers are only averages, but they show that getting more education usually leads to eventually earning a higher salary.
    2. Tell your students that the difference in earning power may be even more significant than the graph shows: people with higher salaries are often able to retire earlier, so their “lifetime earnings” may be based on fewer years of work.
  6. Ask students to write an answer to the prompt, “Education is delaying gratification because ____________.”

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Early Independent

        • EI.CR.3 Understand the relationship among personal and academic decisions, career expectations, and future life decisions. EI.CR.3.1 Understand that the changing workplace requires lifelong learning and the ongoing acquisition of new skills. EI.CR.3.2 Select...
      • Progressing

        • P.CR.3 Understand the relationship among personal and academic decisions, career expectations, and future life decisions. P.CR.3.1 Describe the effect of work on lifestyle. P.CR.3.2 Explain how work can help to achieve personal success and satisfaction.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Guidance (2001)

Grade 6–8

  • Goal 1: Acquire the attitudes, knowledge and skills that contribute to effective learning in school and across the life span.
    • Objective 1.05: Identify attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that lead to successful learning.
  • Goal 7: Acquire the attitudes, knowledge, and interpersonal skills to help understand and respect self and others.
    • Objective 7.06: Practice self-control.