First graders learn about economics by operating a store in their classroom

Featured photo: T. Harry Garrett Elementary School first graders learned basic economic principles through the operation of a store in their classroom. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Shoppers lined up outside the door May 11, waiting to spend their hard-earned cash, but they weren’t outside a big box retailer or at the mall. They were outside Ra’Shon Dixon’s first grade classroom at T. Harry Garrett Elementary School.

“We turned the classroom into a store,” said Dixon, who was recently named the school’s teacher of the year.

The desks were covered with items including books, snacks, games and other toys.

Dixon’s students served as cashiers, managers, security officers and other customer service positions.

Children had lots of options when it came to spending their hard-earned cash at Garrett Elementary School. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“They had to fill out an application and turn it in on time. They had a job interview, and we called their references,” she said. “We talked about wages and needs and wants, and they had on-the-job training.”

The first graders are becoming well-versed in the basics of economic principles.

“I’ve been learning about what a consumer is, what a producer is, what goods and services are, what supply and demand is, what a wage is,” Nova Lane, a first grader tasked with security, said.

The project started before spring break. Students received play money for good behavior, for being kind and considerate to their fellow classmates and for being helpful. It was then up to the students to make sure they didn’t lose their play money.

Even the pre-K pupils had to keep track of their dollars and save them, Dixon said.

The event coincided with career week at the school said Lutricia Parkman, school counselor. Other activities included a Westside High School student who has three businesses, who came and talked to the students; also, a couple of fifth graders got a taste of being a teacher as they planned and implemented a lesson on fossils.

Richmond County School Board member Helen Minchew observed Dixon’s class and said she “loved” what she was seeing.

“I think it’s just great. Those first graders are so enthused,” she said. “It’s so well-organized. You can tell a lot of time and effort has been put into this.”

She said she wished it could be replicated in other schools.

Dixon put a lot of her own money into purchasing items at local stores. She said she had a customer service person at Dollar General who went the extra mile to her find items on sale; she also went to the flea market and other stores looking for deals. And some of the other Garrett teachers pitched in as well.

Dixon said she was able to combine a lot of different subjects into the exercise, and she hopes to do it again next year.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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