Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fourth-graders capitalize on Market Day

December 21, 2006

The shopkeeper was swamped. Each time he took care of one customer, the next sidled up. People surrounded his table with cash crumpled in their hands. Within minutes Nic Bakarich's stock of wooden signs, carved with phrases such as "Caution: Do Not Enter," were gone.

He wasn't in the middle of a Christmas craft fair or shopping mall ---- he set up in a fourth-grade classroom at Eudora West Elementary. His stall ---- really his desk ---- was one of many open for Market Day. The day marked the culmination of a concerted series of lessons teaching fourth-graders the basics of economics.

To teach the students, the fourth-grade teachers changed their classes into mini-societies. The students picked a name and determined an imaginary currency. Over the course of the lessons, the students were assigned certain jobs and earned money after completing them. The jobs included positions within the mini-society, such as mayor or secretary. Other jobs required certain duties like cutting paper or erasing boards.

Fourth-grader Camden Leary earned his cash by serving as a secretary for his geography class.

"It was fun because I got to write things down," Camden said.

At the end of the unit, students created their own business and developed a personal product to sell.

"I hope they understand supply and demand as far as pricing their products," fourth-grade teacher Teresa Reetz said.

The fourth-grade teachers developed the lesson after working through a program run by Kansas University and The Kauffman Foundation. This was the first year it had been done in Eudora.

The students saved money during the course of the lessons. They also kept up a spirit of fun while learning the basic economic concepts.

Fourth-grade teacher Niki Rheuport's class called their classroom "The Icy Arctic." The students spent a currency called "Cool Cash." Across the hall, Todd Chapple's class chose a name from the "Star Wars" movie franchise. Their classroom was called "Kashyyyk" ---- named after the home planet of the furry Wookies.

Despite the fanciful names, at the end of the unit the students had to develop their own product, price it correctly and buy a business license to sell it during the final day.

The products during Market Day were as diverse as the names of the mini-societies.

The students roamed the halls with imaginary money buying everything from ornaments to personalized cards to decorated paper airplanes.

The students decorated their stalls with poster board to lure the customers.

Camden's stall had a printed price list for his set of origami creations.

Other students let the products speak for themselves.

Trey Byrne kept busy with two desks. He laid one desk out with an array of stress relief bags. The other desk he kept for a display of homemade cup holders.

"It's going good," Trey said during the bustle of the buying period.

For Nic, the experiences he gained from the unit might come in handy down the road, he said.

"I just like selling things," he said. "It just helps me get better formed skills if I ever become a marketer or salesman."

After selling out of his stock, Nic was quick to start experiencing the flip side of the economic coin.

"If you excuse me, I have to start buying," he said.

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