We've been on some great field trips, but this one will be hard to top. The kids took a trip to Mini Town to learn all about operating a small business. I do not know the history of this place, but it is an educational center that has been set up to look like a miniature town with different shops and businesses.
Once we signed up for the trip, we were given a reading list of picture books with economic themes. We read through most of the list in December and January and I will post links to our favorite books at the bottom of this post. We also were given "job application" forms for the children to fill out.
Then in January we had a planning day with all the other participants. Each child had a "job interview" which they had prepared for at home. The moms (and grandmas) were the interviewers. Then the children received their job assignments. I was so thankful that Ryne, Anna, and I were all assigned to the same store, The Sweet Shop, so Anna and I could both help Ryne succeed with this project. On our team was another adult and three other children. They spent the rest of the planning meeting working on their store sign (Anna was chosen to design the sign) and fill out their loan application. The children who participated in the planning day were called Producers. Kindergartners and preschoolers, who were not part of planning day, could participate as Consumers on Mini Town day.
Once we arrived at Mini Town and listened to detailed instructions for the day, we were shown to our shops. The Sweet Shop was selling rice crispie treats, ice cream cups with optional M&M topping, and Kool Aid. The kids did all the work! They prepared the treats and drinks (each shop had its own work area -- we even had our own fridge!). The kids were also given their first paychecks so they would be able to purchase goods on their break.
And then it was time to open shop. Gracie was one of the first in line at The Sweet Shop, and I've never seen a happier customer! Later Anna and Ryne took their break, stopping first at the bank to cash their paychecks. Midway through the day the businesses were closed to check on their progress. How much money did they collect? Did they have enough to pay off the loan? What product was selling the best? Did they need to adjust their prices? After a quick trip to the bank to make a deposit, it was time to open business again.
The afternoon selling was frenzied as stores tried to quickly unload their goods. Think Black Friday times ten! And then it was time to count the money again, calculate the profit, visit the bank again, and clean up (they even washed the dishes!). The day concluded with an awards presentation and an auction for prizes (based on each store's profit). The Sweet Shop did well with over $80 in profit.
Best of all my kids loved it and learned a lot! Grace can't wait to be a Producer some day and Anna is eager to participate in a similar program the center has for older children. Ryne did fantastic!!! He helped prepare food, waited on customers, and in general did what the other kids were doing. He interacted with other kids, and I didn't see a single "what's he talking about" expression from any of them! What a great experience!!!
Click here to see a list of our favorite books for this project.