Economics Fairs Teaches Students About the Free Enterprise System

Posted by PISD Communications on 3/26/2019

students at economics fair Second graders is Ms. Mary Jo Sullivan’s class at Spradley Elementary are learning early about the United States’ free enterprise system.  Within the unit, students learned about needs, wants, earning, spending, saving, income, profit, what it takes to be a consumer and what it takes to be a producer.  Students also learned about how individuals have a choice as to what is done with their money/income.

The students were able to draw upon their schema and build upon this foundation Economics Fair 2 because of a financial literacy unit in Math last semester.  This activity taught them social studies while revisiting their math lesson allowing for a great cross-curricular activity. Students were then given the opportunity to have a real life experience by actively becoming producers and consumers.  Through the project, students were able to experience the tough choices that must be made when deciding as to what they wanted to spend their income on, what happens when they have a limited amount of income to spend and how that affects their decision making.  

Economics Fair 3 Each student decided what product or service they wanted to sell.  They then made it and created an advertisement for their product/service including how much it cost.  Students then had the opportunity to sell it to other classmates in their grade level building their social/emotional learning. Throughout the week the students had the opportunity to earn "economics fair dollars"  when they showed high integrity, set a good example for others, and/or displayed acts of REACH (Respect, Encouragement, Appreciation, Communication, Honor). They could use these dollars to be consumers.

Eventually the class participated in fairs where the students were given the opportunity to both sell their product/service functioning as the producers as well as purchase other goods or services functioning as the consumers. Students learned about the excitement of earning money through work and through entrepreneurship. Others learned how to manipulate the system when sales weren’t going in their favor.

One of the biggest challenges that students faced was when there wasn’t enough money to purchase everything that was desired. Students had to use critical thinking and problem solving to make decisions as to what item to purchase and what item to “let go.”  These students may not be ready to balance their own checkbooks, but they truly understand better free enterprise system that is the basis for the U.S. economy.