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The City Journals

South Jordan fourth-graders become entrepreneurs

Jun 05, 2017 11:29AM ● By Julie Slama

South Jordan Elementary students purchase items from fourth-grade entrepreneurs at the school’s annual Ram Mall. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]
For three South Jordan Elementary fourth-graders, deciding what type of business to start took more time than selling their goods.
As part of their school’s “Ram Mall,” the boys sold out within the first five minutes they opened their “JDL Mystery Bag” business.
“We learned not to start at the lower price,” fourth-grader Logan Affleck said. “We started selling them at $5 and raised the price and they were still selling way too fast. We should have started at $15.”
Learning about business was part of the lesson behind the entrepreneur fair and three-week economic unit, teacher Karrie Wardell said.
“We wanted the students to learn about the roles of consumer and producer, supply and demand, buying and making goods, profit and loss,” she said. “The students earned their ‘Ram bucks’ for the fair through jobs in the classroom. They learned how to earn money, save money and the importance of its value. Then, we let them create a business for our fair and asked them to be prepared and flexible to change prices depending on business. It opens their eyes to what it’s like in the real world.”
Students also needed to pay $1 rent for their booth space, pay for any advertising and reimburse their parents through household chores for up to $15 they could spend for supplies.
The mystery bag business, which also was run by Jacob Deyoung and Dallin Dashner, confirmed their thoughts that the fidget spinner toys, which the boys placed in eight of their 40 bags, were in high demand.
“We had everyone wanting to buy them because it’s what is really, really liked,” Dallin said. “Kids break rules for them.”
Jacob said their principal, Ken Westwood, had to send home notes to restrict use of the spinners to during recess only.
“We did well once we decided what would sell,” Jacob said, adding that one of their other ideas included live goldfish.
Business also was doing well for fourth-grader Trevor Gross, who sold out of foam planes a few minutes later. He allowed students to custom decorate them.
“Planes are cool,” he said, adding that he lowered his price by $1 to help boost business. “They fly really far, and by custom decorating them, they’re stylish. I’ve learned that I’m going to be filthy rich.”
At Christopher’s Cracked Jewels, business was cracking as he sold out of marble necklaces. Christopher Pacini was still able to sell some keychains and other items and offered lessons in making jewelry.
“My babysitter, mom and I got our heads together to think of ideas,” Christopher said. “I’ve learned that you got to have a business of what you want — something that sells and is unique so you’re not competing with others.”
Liking what you do is another important lesson students learned. Zeke Gibbs took it to heart as he created more than 50 drawings to sell.
“I drew stuff at home, free hand, because I like doing art,” he said. “I like selling my art because people seem to really like it.”
Parents such as Tanja Rigby appreciated the economics lessons their children were learning.
“The kids got to do it all on their own — their own ideas, signage, problem-solving, such as how much soda or cups to buy — to coming up with creative, fun, innovative businesses,” she said, adding that her daughter, Hannah, was one of three girls in the Italian soda business, Soda Mama. “They talked about what is good as well as the risks of being an entrepreneur.”
Other booths that featured things such as food items and slime, admitted having slower business.
“Slime is popular, and everyone is making it,” student Avery Sheen said. “It’s good people like it, but we haven’t sold anything yet. Maybe if we pay to use the microphone to advertise it, business will pick up.”
Her partner, Sadie Roberts, said that through this project, she’s had fun learning.
“I learned how to create my own business and learning if you have a business, you need to come up with something that will sell,” she said.
Fourth-graders Megan Jones and Bailee Anderson had a candy business.
“Kids like candy, and it’s less expense,” Megan said about deciding what to sell. “We’re holding a drawing to get more money.”
Bailee said she learned one important thing about owning her own business: “If you’re doing anything wrong, you can’t get fired.”