Scattered, covered, and smothered. That’s how Sycamore ES serves up Project-Based Learning (PBL) and classroom instruction on economics.
Using their skills as new writers and mathematicians, the school’s kindergartners spent several days before Spring Break running businesses in their own Kindergarten Communities. Parent volunteers and staff members helped transform the kindergarten hallway into a mini-mall with plenty of choices for goods and services to purchase… everything from a nail salon and photo studio to a movie theater and a familiar breakfast spot serving real waffles!
“It's so exciting to have our real Waffle House chef preparing food for our customers to buy,” said Jennifer Covington, part of the kindergarten teaching team at the school.
Ms. Covington says that the Kindergarten Communities project, an annual event, allowed the children to attach “real life” meaning to the concepts they are learning about earning and spending. “Not only does it align beautifully with our Social Studies AKS,” she says, but the huge projects offered “a kindergarten experience of a lifetime” for Sycamore families.
During the three-day activity, the businesses were open for an hour each day. Children in each kindergarten classroom split their time between working and shopping. Workers earned wages to use when it was their time to shop. (Each family sent in $2.00 in dimes from home to cover the payroll, and all goods and services were priced in increments of 10 cents.)
At the end of the “work” day when the businesses closed, the children and their teachers counted the money and had conversations about income. Each child received $2.00 for the next day, money they had earned as workers. Because the children could use only the money they earned as workers, the teachers were able to emphasize concepts of working for wages, purchasing goods and services, and budgeting and saving for purchases.
The children enjoyed both the activities and the lessons learned. “I loved the communities because everybody got to shop and work,” said one kindergartner about the experience. For another child, the math takeaways were a favorite. “I liked when we made money in our class store and when we counted dimes in ten frames.”