01/09/05 — As 'mini-society' thrives, fifth-graders gain an appreciation for how commerce works

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As 'mini-society' thrives, fifth-graders gain an appreciation for how commerce works

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 9, 2005 2:06 AM

The gymnasium at Tommy's Road Elementary School was converted into an open air marketplace last week as fifth-grade pupils displayed their wares.

It was "Market Day," the culmination of a three-month-long social studies activity conducted by teachers Cathie Hooks, Mary Kearney, Kelly Kokiko, Arthur Stafford and Karen Stevens.

Mrs. Kokiko said the teachers turned their classrooms into a "mini-society," with pupils selecting a town name, creating a constitution and rules to make the society work. Pupils interviewed for jobs and earned wages for them. Play money was used as pay and for pupils to pay taxes, rent for their desks and fines for any infractions to the rules.

The learning activity has been used annually since the school opened, Mrs. Kokiko said. Different this year was the additional aspect of learning about saving money.

At the beginning of the year, fifth-grade pupils were allowed to open savings accounts at First Citizens Bank through a Life $aver$ grant. They were also encouraged to deposit proceeds from the market day project into those accounts, to be used for such field trips as a visit in April planned to Washington, D.C.

Pupils were instructed to make or buy and then market their products for Thursday and Friday's market days. They were to use their own money for the project, and many spent the recent winter break completing it.

Displayed on desks around the gymnasium, products ranged from cupcakes and canned drinks to jewelry and crafts.

Uche Amaefule brought cookies and apple juice to sell. Within the first two hours of business, he had sold out of "Cow Tales" candies and using the box to collect his profits.

"Everybody likes Cow Tales," he said, prompting him to feature them at his booth.

Zach Phillips said his parents helped him come up with the idea of selling gift bags with memo pads and pencils. His most popular item, though, was snow cones.

Ten-year-old Phillips said the experience had taught him that "it's good when you make stuff by yourself and sell it. And that people like to eat snow cones."

Madison Wojihowski's booth featured door hangers that could be personalized.

"They get to make their very own door hanger and pick their colors and letters," she said.

Fifth-grader Luke Robert stood surveying the other booths, anxiously awaiting his turn to set up shop on Friday.

"Books a Billion" would be the name of his business, he said. Items sold included bracelets, books, brownies, and hot chocolate, or in continuing the alliteration, "beverage."

Elliott Best and Hidematsu Sueki said they were also looking forward to their business opening on Friday. They planned to sell popcorn, canned drinks and candy.

Elliott excitedly shared that he had learned much about managing money through the classroom activity. He said the savings account idea helped.

"It helps us know how to get money out and not spend it all at one time, that you have to work to make money," he said.

"Having to pay taxes and rent on our desks" was also an eye-opener, he said. Coupled with having to buy things for the market day, Elliott said he came away with a greater appreciation for his parents.

"I told my mom last night, 'Every time you ask me not to buy something now, I will understand,'" he said.