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.