Greenville elementary students to learn economics

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GREENVILLE – Many fourth-grade students at Greenville Elementary will share that their favorite days of the school year are coming up. No, it isn’t field day or the last day of school, but occurs about two weeks prior, when their math and social studies instructors are teaching the economics unit.

Again this year, Mrs. Sherry Flora, Mrs. Lori Duncan, Mrs. Tracy Knapke, Mrs. Lois Britsch, and Ms. Brittany Voke will impart knowledge regarding the creation, consumption, and transfer of wealth.

State testing will be complete, and then students will have the opportunity to focus on learning some life lessons and putting fourth-grade social studies and math standards into action.

Initially, students learn about “opportunity cost.” Essentially, there is only so much money one has (scarcity). Due to this, one makes a choice; opportunity cost is an item one has to forgo because in real life, you simply can’t have it all. With the “opportunity cost sundae
activity,” each student receives $.50 in classroom money. There is vanilla ice cream and nine different toppings from which to choose. Here the dilemma begins…an extra scoop of ice cream will take all of one’s money- not leaving any funds for toppings. In this case, the
toppings are the opportunity cost. If students decide to get toppings (priced $.05, $.10, $.15, and $.25), now the extra scoop becomes the opportunity cost. To complicate the decision, there are also incentives involved- “buy one topping/get one topping” and “quick sale/reduced price toppings” (with the cost drastically reduced) which could motivate one to make a choice that may not necessarily be their preference- just as in real life.

After the sundae building, students enjoy their dessert while discussing why they chose (or what motivated them) to build their sundae in such a manner. A reflection paper is completed regarding what would have been chosen had there been “unlimited funds,” equal topping price, and expenses (having to purchase a bowl and spoon).

Additionally, students design their ultimate sundae and discuss its total price based on the classroom topping prices.

After this economics exercise, learners put their economic vocabulary into action as they experience how a business works from product to profit. With the help of school-approved YouTube videos, students will generate “kid-friendly” items to sell. Students have to be clever with choosing their products and marketing their inventory. Items will range in cost from $.25 to $2.00. Popular past items include: pet rocks, squish/stress balls, paper airplanes, origami decorations, bracelets, hair ties, and decorative magnets. A “division of labor” will also be experienced as specified homerooms will design a PowerPoint to advertise the products in the extended learning areas of the school.

The real fun begins with conducting the sales, calculating the profits, and determining loss (if any). Unlike true businesses, students voted to determine which local charity would benefit from their dividends.

Again, this school year, the Darke County Humane Society was the choice.