I’ve been a third grade teacher for 10 years now. As I look back on my years of teaching, I think about the many changes and improvements I’ve made. Some years more than others, some units more than others. This year as I was preparing to teach a unit on economics in ELA and math, I thought about how I have done it in the past. We have designed new inventions, read about businesses and even created commercials for our inventions. It was great, but as I was reading “The Wild Card” by Hope and Wade King, I was inspired to start imagining how I could take something I’ve done for years and kick it up a notch. How can I take my own interests and creativity and go all out for my students?
One of the stories we read during the unit is called “Lemons and Lemonade” which lends itself perfectly to some Lemonade Stand project based learning. Not knowing where to start, I Googled “Lemonade Stand projects” and came up with links to Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers. I found a fantastic Lemonade Stand PBL on Teachers Pay Teachers which you can find here: Lemonade Stand. I really liked what she had and used many parts to help me design and create a project that was specific to my students. I also wanted my students to be creating a lemonade stand business to sell to investors instead of just selling lemonade.
When I introduced the project to my students, they were incredibly excited! I decided to have them choose their own groups of three for the project. We talked at length about our strengths and what we can bring to a group. We talked about choosing partners who have complimentary strengths and students that they can get along with. Once they chose, I could tell that a little over half of my class actually listened and made good choices and the other half did not. In the end, I’m glad that I let them choose. The ones who chose wisely did a great job and the ones who didn’t got a bit of a natural consequence for their choice. I will admit, I LOVE when my students experience natural consequences…and learn something from them!
Once the students were in groups, they developed their business name and logo on a piece of paper. Then using one of the pages in the above Lemonade Stand PBL pack, they started drawing out a plan of what their model stand would look like. That same day during math we spent time looking at the supplies needed to run a lemonade stand, the cost involved, and the amount needed to get our businesses up and running.
The next day they had to draw the model of the stand and label what they were planning to use to build it. Knowing that we would be building our stands the next day, my students asked if they were allowed to bring in their own materials. Not knowing how it would work out, I said yes and hoped for the best. When my students came in the next day I was shocked to see all kinds of supplies!
I set out a bunch of random supplies from my own cupboard, gave them very few instructions, then let them loose. It was a noisy and productive day in our classroom! Some students got to work right away having planned everything out the day before and agreed on their plan of action. Others had a more difficult time getting started. They either couldn’t agree on what/how they were going to build or they just didn’t know where to start. Eventually everyone was able to build something that first day. I had only intended on having them spend the one day building, but after reflecting on the difficulty some of them had, I decided to have them revisit their stands and make changes and adjustments to it the next day. I also had them include any iterations on the drawing of their stands as well.
This extra day of building actually gave me a fantastic opportunity to sit down with each group individually and look at their supply list. I helped them to copy it to their financial plan and got to have conversations with them about adding other products to their stands in order to be competitive. We talked about cost and capital, setting prices and profit. It was so much more valuable to have these discussions in small groups where we were able to talk directly about the items their individual teams were selling and how their decisions would affect their businesses.
The next week we started working on our posters. We talked about the design of our posters, what makes a good business name, and why a simple but bold logo is important. Students worked together to draw a smaller version of their poster on construction paper before getting a piece of poster board for their final product. This team did a particularly great job naming their business and designing their logo!
As kind of an after thought, I decided to have my students “buy” and factor in the cost of supplies to build their stands as well. I wanted them to have a complete business plan for investors when they came in. I also wanted investors to see the total capital it would take for each business to get started and be able to invest in a complete package. So, we spent math that day deciding upon materials and calculating the cost of building our lemonade stands… assuming that we build them ourselves and don’t have to pay for labor!
Students were given a folder with their team’s name on it to keep their work in as we went through the process. From start to finish, our lemonade stands took 8 days during both ELA and Math to complete and present.
On the last day it was time to present to our investors! Staff from my school, administrators, and board members were invited to come to our classroom to be our investors. I created a rubric using much of the rubric I had found in the Lemonade Stand PBL pack I linked to in the first paragraph. This rubric gave investors an idea of what to look for in our businesses and presentations. When investors walked in, they got a clipboard with a rubric and $60 (4-$10 and 1-$20 to disseminate how they choose). As a class we discussed what it looked like to be professional. We talked about and practiced shaking hands and introducing ourselves before investors came in. We also rearranged the classroom so that all stands were in a circle around the room and investors had plenty of room to walk from one to the next.
Investors had about 45 minutes to come in whenever they had some time, look at the lemonade stand models and posters, and ask the business owners questions about their business. I was so grateful for such a willing staff who took time out of their lunches and busy days to come and support my students! The kids were so excited to share their work with past teachers, future teachers, IA’s and even our principal! It’s funny but I learned that teachers do not make the best investors! There were 9 groups and each investor only got a total of 6 bills to hand out. Many teachers came back asking for more money to invest but I had to turn them away! “But they all did such a great job!” they said but…I still denied them. 🙂
When the investors left, teams were able to count up their investments and find out if their business was fully funded or if they are still in need of money to get started. In the end, our team with the most investment received 100XP each (as part of our gamified classroom) and had more money than they needed for their business to get off the ground! We ended the day with a glass of lemonade and a toast to all of our hard work!!
UPDATE: Here is a link to my Google Drive with any images or docs/sheets that I created for this project. Feel free to use any or all! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KL_iyMxs36fpzjYhdfTEv9u_0rhf_6D2/view?usp=sharing