Teaching third graders about economics can be tough, but for one Bardstown Elementary teacher, she found a way to bring the fun into econ. Last Friday, Betty Mizutani’s third-grade class held their Market Day to culminate their lessons on finances and the economy.
Over the last few weeks, Mizutani’s class had been brainstorming their businesses, all while they learned about economics and local business. Throughout the weeks leading up to her students’ opening day for their businesses, various leaders from the community, such as Ashley Rogers for City of Bardstown and Jimi Burress of Town and Country Bank and Trust Co came and spoke to the class about the how to start a business and what business license fees are used for.
“I find sometimes that social studies can be kind of dry, because they don’t know how to apply it to real life,” Mizutani said. “But they had the experience of wanting something and not having money for it. And so, I thought, OK, well, let’s try to make this real life. You know, kids love money. They love feeling proud of themselves, you know, feeling like they can do something and so I had them start brainstorming somehow ideas of shops they might want to have or a service they might want to provide,”
Nine shops opened last week in the third grade hallway of BES last week, each boasting their own City of Bardstown business license, which was modified and has fees waives for the students. Mizutani’s students offered a wide variety of business ventures from a nail salon to movie theater to ice cream to friendship bracelets, they group cornered the market in third-grader essentials.
Among the bustle of Friday’s opening day, Mizutani said she hoped the real-world application of the economic allowed her students to think on the fly. She said she knew this was an opportunity for them to learn how to problem solve in real time.
For one student running Star to Sky (the group’s only toy shop), she learned quickly about the application of supply and demand. Mizutani said she heard her students’ worry of multiple people looking to purchase the shop’s singular dragon plush. Her teacher encouraged her to raise the price to see who would really wanted the toy.
“I felt this was probably something that was going to have a greater impact,” Mizutani said. “Granted, we still, you know, learned all the things that we needed to in reading, at the same time especially for different types of learners, you need some hands-on, you need some movement, you need some real-world examples.”
Leona Linton, one of the students running BFF Bracelets, was eager to take stock of her shop nearly an hour into their opening. She said she was really happy one of her classmates enjoyed their Rainbow Loom bracelets and had purchased their whole stock.
“We had a hundred in our pocket that we got to spend, but now we have more than that,” Linton said, smiling.
Lee Marie Luckett and Jocelyn Burress, the duo behind Sugar Rush, said they found it difficult to gather all of their ice cream supplies ahead of opening day because of their $15 budget. Burress lamented that they had to opt for whipped cream in a tub as opposed to in a bottle for its cheaper price.
However, Luckett said, she was happy to see that their shop was very popular with nearly all of their classmates stopping by to get their own scoop.
All of Mizutani’s work on a real-world application of lessons was done with Bardstown City School’s Future Shift Fellowship in mind. This fellowship is rooted allowing BCS teachers to break out of the typically classroom mold and give students the opportunity to make connections to their lessons based on different application.
Mizutani said she was very pleased with her students’ accomplishments last week, noting all their hard work leading up to opening day. In a reflection with the class after closing shop for the day, she said some students were merely happy that they made money while others looked in depth.
“I also had a few go a little bit deeper and say that yes, they would do some things differently, and they gave me examples like lower their prices or have items that were more popular,” she said. “My toy store suggested that the next time they would not have such big items. My group that had self-published a book, they decided that they would make fewer Popsicle Pup books, and they might need to lower the price. All in all, I am pleased with what they accomplished today. I will start looking for other ways to incorporate deeper learning.”