JRE Market Day teaches real world economics

Market Day for web final

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

For nearly a decade, third grade Jackson Road Elementary School students have been receiving a hand-on experience in economics by becoming entrepreneurs in their own straw market on Market Day.

JRE teacher Amy Nelms Brown said Market Day is an opportunity for the students to learn outside of workbooks.

“The third grade does it. Our social studies standards talks about economics, and it has entrepreneurs and consumers and supply and demand, things like that, so our third graders spend about a week working on research, business proposals, business plans, and researching and making their products and then we do a profit analysis after Market Day to see if they made a profit or not. It’s for third grade as far as being entrepreneurs, and then the rest of the school comes in as consumers,” Brown said.

Shoppers this year had dozens of wares from which to choose including stress balls, paper airplanes, bracelets, jewelry, tissue paper flowers, fidget spinners, scarves and bracelets, pet rocks and picture frames.

“Each of the third graders who becomes an entrepreneur sets up their own store front, and they create an advertisement that hangs up in front of their store that you see when they’re set up on the lunch tables. They have created at least 50 products of some sort – something that they’ve made by hand and created on their own – and they cannot spend more than $5 to make those 50 products,” Brown said. “In 15 minute intervals, we have a schedule set up where the rest of the school comes in as grade levels. Each student is given a quarter of Market Day money – a $.25 coupon – so every student is able to buy something, and then those students who choose to bring in a dollar or two from the house if they want to purchase additional items. It’s a fund-raiser for third grade.”

A portion of Market Day profits are used to fund subsequent years’ straw market economics lesson, but with profits increasing, that will soon expand.

“This year’s profit was over $500. That was real US currency, not including the coupons we gave out. Part of that will be spent on supplying the craft items needed, and the rest we’ll use on third grade on all these engaging and innovative ideas that we’re trying to incorporate,” Brown said. “We are now making more money than we used to, so we’re going to start thinking for next year what else we can do with that money – if we can donate to the Maker’s Space that the school has or something school-wide.”

Financial profit aside, however, the hands-on experience and knowledge gained is the true value of the event.

“It’s just one of the things we do that they’re excited about. I could have given them the workbook that we have that teaches about consumers, entrepreneurs, profit and supply and demand, and they could have learned the same standards, but actually getting to participate in it and doing a real world project based activity for the week, and becoming an actual entrepreneur, they’ve looked forward to it since they first visited in Pre-K the first time,” Brown said. “They get the same standards out of it, but it so much more authentic because they turned it into a real world application, so just the fun and engaging part of it. I think they master the standards much better this way than if we did it the standard way with a workbook and pencil.”

It also encourages teachers.

“The biggest take away for me is that in order to get the kids engaged and excited about what they’re doing, we need to continue to think outside the box and continue with creative and innovative ideas that get the kids up and moving and make them a part of the experience rather than spoon feeding them the information. We want them to become active learners, and in this Market Day project, they completely do that,” Brown said.

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