If you use classroom money, like we do, it seems like you are constantly searching for ways for your students to spend money. You might find yourself frequently asking parents to make donations to your classroom store, or even worse, using your own money! Market Day is your solution! Students get the opportunity to run a business with real life expenses! Talk about motivation! We have seen a HUGE improvement in student behavior and work completion because they want to earn money for Market Day!So how do you start a Market Day? Some of you might be thinking, “Will this even work for me if I don’t use classroom money?” Yes! You can distribute money just for this day, or have them earn it during the weeks leading up to your Market Day. The amount of money will depend on your prices. When we did our Market Day, our students had, on average, $600. The amounts that you see in this blog post will be related to that amount. If this large amount doesn’t work for you, then adjust based on your needs.
The first step to Market Day is having students develop their business. This needs to start with a classroom discussion about the strategies of starting a business. Questions to consider are:
- Do you want a business partner, or do you want to own your own business?
- If you want a business partner, what qualities are you looking for in a partner?
Once students have brainstormed their responses to these questions, you can have students form partnerships. We do not allow our students to have a business with more than three people; most students choose to have a group of two. Once students are in their partnerships, the real questions start needing answers:
- How will we divide the work?
- When will we develop our products?
- How will we divide our earnings?
- Will we each keep the earnings from our own products we make, or will we put all of our earnings in one pot and evenly split?
The next step is having students choose a product or products to make and sell. In our Market Day, we only allow our students to sell handmade crafts, rather than foods or services. You have the option to include these items; however, we find it easier not to do so. The only rules that we have for the handmade crafts are that they have to be handmade by the students, and they cannot spend more than $10 in real currency on the supplies to make their crafts.
We print out pictures of crafts for students to choose from, or they can come up with their own ideas. We get the pictures of crafts by simply going onto the internet and typing in “handmade crafts for kids.” We then copy and paste pictures into Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, print, and cut them out for students to “shop” through. They take their pictures home, get permission from parents, and it’s that simple! Parents love this because they don’t have to come up with an idea, and it’s already teacher-approved! We like to have students decide on a product to sell at least three weeks before Market Day to allow time for production and for them to work out any kinks that may arise. Prices also need to be decided on. Based off of our dollar amounts, most of our students chose to have their products range from $10-$40, depending on the product.
The next step is to have students develop their marketing techniques. Students need to come up with a business name that reflects their products. They also need to come up with a logo. They love this part! Student creativity soars! We have our students create around 10 business cards (or more) for their business. We tell them to include their business name, logo, and then list their products with costs on the back. Students also need to design a store sign and an open/closed sign to use for their store on Market Day. In our classroom, we allow our students to advertise through a 45-second commercial for their products/business the day before Market Day. Students then leave their business cards on the counter, and other students pick one up if they are interested. Another idea is to put together a classroom catalog or bulletin board displaying their businesses and products.
Now, your students are prepared for Market Day! We highly recommend that students bring in their items three days before your actual Market Day. We have had students come to school crying because their little brother spilled water on their product or their business partner is absent and they have the product, etc. If students bring in their crafts beforehand, you are able to prevent a disaster with upset students and parents.
So how do students use their currency on Market Day? The first way that students spend their money is by purchasing a business license. We charged $200 based off of the fact that students had around $600. Of course, you will get some of your students who have not earned enough, so in this case, we purchase their business license for them, and then they split their profit with us 50/50. We have the discussion that this is what happens in real life, and most people have to take out a loan. Another way that students spend their classroom currency is that we require them to pay for their commercial. They also have to rent the space that they are selling in. We charge $50 a space. Students also have to pay taxes on their profit.
On the day of Market Day, students bring in their shopping bags and get ready to shop! Before we begin, we have a discussion on how they will both sell and shop. We have found it easiest to leave it up to the students. You can ask them if they would rather have their store open first and sell, or have their store closed and go shop. Some students decided to write a shopping list based off of the advertisements the day before and send a shopper out to go get the items, while the other stayed and sold products. Another way to do this is numbering students and having odds shop while evens sell, switch, and then a free-for-all at the end.
During the buying and selling of goods, we have our students write receipts and keep a record of their sales and earnings. Our receipts are simple: just the item(s), amounts, and total. The record of sales is useful when it’s time to pay taxes.
While students are selling, you will be amazed by what is actually going on in your room! You will hear students asking and answering questions (great for your English language learners), making change, using customer service strategies, and teamwork! You really need to just sit back and watch your students become completely immersed in the world of entrepreneurship, or, better yet, go out and shop yourself!