We did it! After a couple of scheduling mishaps, the 3rd graders finally got their field trip to Casa Tua Bakery! This field trip added another real-life component to our economics unit, allowing the students to see first-hand what it takes to run a business.
The students took with them a graphic organizer to keep track of the economic ideas they will eventually write about in their non-fiction report about the bakery. As we moved through the bakery and listened to our tour guide, the students took notes about productive resources (mixers, walk-in ovens, bakers, flour), goods (bread, cookies, pastries), consumers (people who keep kosher, local restaurants, the JCC) and more. I was so impressed with their focus during the tour. They all took very valuable notes! Apparently I didn't get any pictures of them with their clipboards, but here they are waiting to wash their hands.
To internalize further some of the resources required to make baked goods, the students got to make goods of their own. The head baker taught them how to make cinnamon rolls!
The little bakers will bring home their creations, as well as some sweet bread samples, in their backpacks today.
Interested in hearing more about the trip? Here are some questions to ask your 3rd grader:
- What capital resources do they use at the bakery? What about natural resources?
- Did you see any evidence of scarcity?
- Where there any resources that saved the bakers a lot of time?
- Of all the goods you tried, which one was your favorite?
Today was market day!
Market day is where our growing knowledge of economics comes to life! The students have prepared for this day by creating our class currency, earning their weekly salaries, creating business proposals to sell goods or services, and advertising for their businesses using posters, invitations, and word-of-mouth. Market day takes place on the last Friday of every month. More details about the creation of our mini-economy can be found here.
Let's take a look at the fun!
Here are some pictures of the students setting up their various booths. Hover over each picture to read a description of that business.
Now take a look at the market in action!
If you hovered over my picture, you read that one of my items sold out in 3 minutes. This created an interesting economic effect. One student came to me and said that he noticed that item was scarce, as other students wanted one but there were none left. So what did he do? He sold the ones he bought from me at a higher price! This was such a concrete example of an abstract topic we have been discussing this whole unit: the more scarce an item is, the higher the price becomes!
After the market was over, and they balanced their account records, it was time for the students to reflect upon how it all went. They spent so much time preparing for this day, and now that they experienced it, I really wanted them to be intentional in their thoughts about what worked, what didn't, and what they will do differently next time.
Overall the market was a huge success. I can't wait to see what the next one has in store! I'd like to leave you with the remarks of a very important visitor who experienced the market for herself today. Here is what Mrs. Gettinger had to say:
"I was absolutely amazed by the creativity, resourcefulness and maturity that the third graders displayed with the monthly market activity. Their background knowledge of economic principles and the real life experience of filling out a business proposal and having it approved, figuring out their good or service and the requisite planning and production outside of class time all provide critical life skills for these students! Entrepreneurship is so empowering! What a meaningful learning experience incorporating the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, creative and critical thinking skills and what a perfect class for this project as they are so respectful of their peers and teachers alike. Kudos to teacher and students on this unique endeavor."
Today we looked at a familiar story in a new way. Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree is a classic story, a favorite of many, and can be looked at through multiple lenses. Perhaps when you first read it you thought of the generosity of the tree and the youthful selfishness of the boy. Maybe the story made you think of the way close relationships change over time. Odds are you never read the book and contemplated the economic elements of the story, but that's exactly what we did today!
Instead of reading the story, we watched an animated version that was created and narrated by Shel Silverstein in 1973. You can watch the video by clicking the link at the top of this post.
Before listening to the story, the students were given an index card and told to divide it into 3 sections, labeled "G," "S," and "R." Immediately, a few students exclaimed, "goods, services, and resources!" Apparently I'm becoming predictable. As they listened, the students made lists in each category as they heard the elements in the story. The boy sold apples, so apples are a good. The tree was the resource that provided them. The tree provided the service of shade to the boy. The leaves and branches were the resources that made the shade!
After reading and discussing these elements, the 3rd graders were given another student's thinking to evaluate. This reminded them of today's learning target, which is "I can evaluate a scarcity situation and defend my opinion." They knew that this next activity would be what today's lesson was all about.
The basic question was this: is the tree in the story a scarce resource? Why or why not? They were told that a student named Yaakov says that no, the tree is not a scarce resource. They were asked to pick a side -- either you agree with Yaakov or you don't. Students took time to write out their thoughts individually. Then, I grouped the students based on which side they chose. The sides got together to complete some tasks that would help them synthesize their arguments.
Here is what they came up with:
Then we had a friendly debate. The students learned that a debate is not an argument, it is a friendly exchange of ideas and responses. The goal is to come away with either a new idea or a more refined version of your original idea. We used a sentence template to frame our responses to keep the debate focused.
I was surprised at how well they stuck to the format, and how they really listened to the other side and adjusted their response accordingly.
We ended up at a place where we agreed that in the story only the boy wanted the tree, and the tree was able to give him everything he wanted; therefore, the tree was not a scarce resource. However, economically speaking, the tree would be considered scarce because other people could want the tree's resources and there wouldn't be enough to go around.
I have to say, I started out firmly on one side of this debate, and ended up not so sure. What do you think?
Today we had a guest speaker!
Rachel Gershman, who works in the advertising industry, came to our class to give us some pointers. We were looking for information on how to better our advertising campaign for our upcoming shirt-making project. One strategy we hadn't thought of before was developing a logo to go along with our business name, Star Shirts. Unfamiliar with our shirt-making business? You can read about it here. Ms. Gershman showed us Canva, an app that makes logo creation easy! This advice also gave students ideas for how to better their advertisements for their own small businesses that they will be running during our monthly class markets. With so many bright, creative students in our class, I can definitely envision marketing and graphic design being viable career options in the future!
Now that we have studied economic concepts like resources, scarcity, goods, and services, the 3rd grade is embarking on a new journey -- our own mini-economy!
Here's how it works: each week the students rotate through jobs like: door holder, librarian, veterinarian, and supply straightener. At the end of the week the students will receive a salary for completing their classroom jobs. They can earn bonuses for going above and beyond in their jobs, and can lose pay for not doing their best. They will keep track of their earnings and have the opportunity to spend their money at our monthly market. But they must be wise, because at the end of the year there will be a SUPER market, where they can buy more expensive, big-ticket items.
In order to make our economy feel authentic, we held a design contest for our class currency. We first studied currencies from around the world to learn how important symbols can be to a community. After building that background knowledge, the students submitted their own designs.
The designers got a chance to explain the symbols they included on their currency, then the students took a vote. After a few tie-breakers, the top 4 designs were chosen. These 4 designs became the 20, 10, 5, and 1 denominations. I copied them on colored paper to make it official.
We then voted to name our currency, and the students settled on "millionaire money." Next, we chose a symbol - which looks like an @ symbol but instead of an "a" inside it's an "m" - and our currency was complete! As of this week, students either have m5 or m7 in their bunny bank, depending on the difficulty of last week's job.
Our mini-economy does not stop there. No, the students have worked too hard learning about how businesses work to stop there. The final, and perhaps most exciting, piece of our mini-economy is the opportunity for entrepreneurship! If a student would like to earn extra income, he/she can start his/her own small business selling a good or service at the monthly market. A student with a talent for bracelet-making can sell bracelets. A more task-oriented student could start a cubby-cleaning business. Whatever they decide, they must fill out a business proposal and have it approved by me. Then, they must make an advertisement so that the consumers know what products are available for purchase at the market. With such a creative class, I'm excited to see what they come up with! If you are too, keep an eye on the blog!
My final note on the mini-economy involves you, the parent. If you have small items or big-ticket items that you would like to donate to the market, please send me an email. The more diverse the market is, the more incentive the students will have to do their jobs well and start a business of their own!
Little people, big minds.