A few years ago I started selling healthy snacks to my students. Invention is the mother of necessity, as they say, and that’s how our Snack Shack got started. You see, we have over 800 students in our K-4 building. It takes a long time to feed that many students their lunch. As the oldest students, my 4th graders were often relegated to being served last…one year our lunch was at 12:50! That makes for a very long morning, especially if you eat breakfast before coming to school.
Stocking the Store
I couldn’t afford to feed my students out of my own pocket, so I came up with the idea of selling them snacks. I simply purchased a few items I thought the kids would eat, while making sure that I didn’t lose money in the sale. The signs at Sam’s Club give shoppers a price break down for each individual item in a box. For example, a $9.27 box of 90 Airheads comes to 9.8 cents per Airhead. Charging 50 cents per snack easily allowed me to sell such snacks. The profit I make is spent on supplies for the classroom that normally would have been purchased with my own money.
I was quite pleased with our little Snack Shack, as we called it, and thought nothing more about it…until it was time to each my economics unit. That’s when I realized yet another useful feature of having a classroom store. Having our own store was a great way of furthering students’ understanding about the concepts in my lessons. Our first lesson was about saving and investing. The ultimate goal of the lesson was to teach students that they have choices about what to do with their money other than just spend it on things. I wanted them to grasp the wisdom behind saving and investing.
Saving and Investing Lesson
I introduced this lesson by passing around our jar of money collected through snack sales. I asked students to work in small groups and brainstorm what they might like to do with the money. As I expected, they had all sorts of ideas about how to spend the money but little to no thought as to saving or investing it. Through the course of the lesson, I demonstrated how an investment of $10 in a box of snacks generated a profit of $35. Suddenly, I had a room full of young investors all wanting to become share holders in our snack store!
Making Economics Personal
The study of economics can be very abstract to 4th grade students. Our Snack Shack provided me with an excellent opportunity for teaching these difficult concepts and principles. By using something so familiar to them such as our store, I was able to help them understand these ideas in a more personal way. With still more economic lessons to come, I will continue using our store to further my students’ understanding of these important concepts.