Market Day

Student string art!  I regret not buying one of these!
Every spring, our fifth grade classes participate in an event called Market Day, though I've also heard it called Business Day or Entrepreneurs Day.  It is THE best.

If you haven't read how we use class cash, go back and visit THIS post for more information.

Essentially, our room runs on a financial literacy system and while there are many opportunities to spend their money, Market Day is the ultimate.

Because Market Day has become a tradition, the students come in on day one wanting to know the details.  We talk about it throughout the year but we launch the project in the early spring (for us, that's around the start of April).
Stamped leather keychains on a cute display board!
We begin by talking about small businesses and what it means to build a brand.  We do a lot of discussion and for us, this happens during our morning meeting times.  By having multiple (but short) discussions, their interest really is piqued and they come back wanting more.

If you're looking for a guiding resource, my friends at The Rigorous Owl have a great one I'd recommend!

Students decide if they'd like to go at their store solo or if they'd like to form a partnership.  There are pros and cons to each and we discuss both sides before they ultimately make their own choices.  I've tried doing groups larger than two but for us, it just doesn't seem to work as smoothly.  Students will likely have to get together with their partner and the more people involved, the harder that becomes.

While we do all of the learning and discussion in class (again, Rigorous Owl have it all laid out for you!), the actual product creation is done at home.  

So, once they've decided how they'll structure their store, they have to decide WHAT they'll create.

We have rules for this.  Obviously.
We do allow dog treats and these are pretty cute!  You could fill a bag for a set amount of class cash.
For us, NO food products are allowed.  That's a district policy and it keeps us all safe.  That means nothing home baked or made on site (they always ask if they can do shave ice or cotton candy.  No.).
These silk flowers were in egg carton holders.  SO cute and creative!
We also say that it must be STUDENT made.  We set a real cash budget of $20 per store (not per person) but you can do whatever works for your student population.  I know I keep saying it but Rigorous Owl has so many ideas in their resource.  Things like paper airplanes and recycled goods cost little to nothing.  Also, you could allow services, instead of products.  We've had people do drawings, by request origami, and even hair braiding.

With products, they can make as many items within that budget as possible but we usually suggest making around 20 of an item is good.  

Back to rules: must be school appropriate (no weapons), must be ONE thing (we aren't opening mini Target stores; if you're making slime, you're making slime and not slime and candles.  Make sense?), and cannot exceed the budget.

Now, you can get real particular with this and ask for receipts but that's been a burden I haven't chosen to bear.  I operate on the trust system with heavy family communication via email.

Once they select their product, they explain it using forms from Rigorous Owl.
I'm meeting with a student to see if he's ready for his business license.  Don't worry.  He was ready.
Then, it's off to the Better Business Bureau (the BBB) for either approval and a business license or back to the drawing board for revisions.  My neighbor and I take this very seriously, which means the students do, too!

They have to come prepared with their paperwork, $100 class cash for a license, and the ability to answer our hard questions.  We DO send kids back if their proposal isn't reasonable or feasible.  Life lessons abound with this!

Once they've been approved, they are free to begin making products at home.
These Pokemon terrariums cost a little more to make so while he only made a limited number, they sold out FAST.
Again, I include updates and important information regarding Market Day in my weekly parent emails.  Keep parents informed.  I'm a parent and I'll be honest: sometimes projects make me want to rip out my hair.  Don't do that to a parent.  Ha!  

We usually provide students a full month to create products at home before the big day comes.

On Market Day, students get to set up shop.  If families have folding tables, we ask/beg to borrow them.  Otherwise, we drag desks out.  We have a nice grassy area for this but you could just as easily do it inside a classroom, too.
No parents but we LOVE when our school staff comes out to support us!  We always slip them class cash for the event.
This is a STUDENT event so while parents help set up, we kindly ask them to leave after about 15 minutes.  Our Market Day runs from the beginning of the day up until the first recess, for a total of two hours.  

Students can maintain their store or they can close up shop temporarily, allowing THEM to go shop.
Transactions, making change, writing receipts... I love it all.
It's pretty awesome, as a teacher, to step back and watch students make these big, real, independent choices.  How will they spend their money?  How do they decide between two similar products?  Additionally, how do you make YOUR product stand out in a crowd?

It's just all so good and it feels like a giant step towards growing up and making future career plans.  THIS is the stuff they remember and it also makes me all emotional because each year, I witness such greatness and potential.


I got sidetracked.

We DO invite our fourth graders to come shop for the last 30 minutes of market.  We give each fourth grade teacher enough cash for each student and they come SO excited.

It's really win-win because it helps those stores who still have product and it helps the fourth graders see what will happen the following year.  I'm hoping to expand and even invite THIRD graders next year.

Bigger and better each time, right?

My biggest pieces of advice: prepare in class, have discussions, keep parents informed, and do what works for YOUR school community.


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