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No Way Hozay!

June 19, 2012

I had to laugh. My first graders were preparing for their small business expo. The small business expo is the culminating event for our unit on economy. Economy as it relates to a first grader….which means…they know a lot!

Each student had to create his/her own business. They thought about the concept, design of the physical facility, as well as, who they would have to hire to work there. They created an ad campaign, flyers, and talked about their product design. Here’s a list of businesses:

  • Fingerland (Nail Salon)
  • Hamburger and Juice
  • Convenience Store
  • Sweet Drinks
  • Attraction Land (think Disney with better rides)
  • Share Car (Borrow Toy Cars and return them)
  • Bee’s Bakery
  • Princess Hotel
  • Game Center

The children made them into dioramas. They made floor layouts, ads and flyers. They put HOURS of work into their companies. Quite a few of them would forgo recess just to stay in the room and work.

In class we talked about what it means to be an employee vs a business owner. What skills do you need to get a job? So they created miniature employees and gave them names. They had to decide the level of education their employee needed in order to get a position. So we discussed the differences between high school, trade school, and university. It was kind of funny to listen to them talk about their employee going to trade school vs. high school.

The children asked very real questions about status in the workplace. Well, wouldn’t you know it…I had one student in my class who said, “Ms. Chatman, what school do you have to go to be a “shacho” ? A “shacho” is the president of a Japanese company. I was really pleased. How do  you answer this question honestly? I told him, “there are a few ways to go, but you don’t have to go to school. However, if you went to school you could get an MBA. Some people don’t go to school. They have an idea and they pursue it. Some people have a family member who owns a company and then they can become the “shacho.” Then I explained to him that we can change the name from shacho to CEO. That would be better. (Note: I work at an international school. I don’t speak Japanese so this conversation was in English.)

The kids were obsessed about their businesses. A vast majority of them skipped recess to work on them. I had to push them out of the classroom so I could take a nap. The young man who decided that he was a shacho would bring tons of boxes to the classroom everyday. I don’t know where he got all of those boxes. Then he would spend the entire period working on his business.

We had a community business meeting and we had to vote on who our community leader would be. The children were very serious about giving their speeches to their classmates. Many of them listed their attributes as a leader. The young man who wanted to be “shacho” said, “I am a CEO of my company. I am a good leader. Oh and my dad is a shacho so I can be one too.” (Hello Nepotism!)

Anyway, he won the election. I knew he would. He took his job very seriously. He included children who didn’t raise their hand during the meeting. He made sure everyone took turns. He listened and when he didn’t like an idea he made sure he was polite. The entire class took ownership of this project. Unfortunately a storm was brewing!

See, on the weekend our classroom is used by a Saturday program. We noticed that every Monday something had been touched. An elevator shaft was removed. The Fingerland sign was found  underneath the table. The roller-coaster wasn’t standing up straight anymore. A myriad of problems and concerns started peppering our classroom meetings.  I really didn’t get involved. I just observed. Then all of a sudden, the shacho said, “Let’s make a sign!”

The children went into a frenzy! Everyone started making signs!

I really love it when my students get completely engrossed in their learning. They all banded together to make sure that the other kids knew that they didn’t want them touching their businesses. They plastered these types of signs all over the room. I started to remind them that the business expo would be this coming Wednesday and there’s no need to make the signs. I wanted to reign them in a little. The room was getting pretty heated!

Luckily, the kids were able to get out their frustration and focus on building their businesses.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2013 3:57 PM

    I enjoyed reading about this experience because it is proof that children can engage in critical thinking activities that build their literacy and social skills without the dreaded textbook. Kudos to you on how you facilitated their learning!

    • February 14, 2013 11:04 AM

      Thanks Stronger Tomorrow! The kids really do know how to take charge when they want to.

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