MINI TOWN

MINI-TOWN IS A SIMPLIFIED VERSION OF THE SOE MARKETPLACE DESIGNED FOR LOWER ELEMENTARY GRADE LEVELS. IT IS DESIGNED FOR STUDENTS TO PRACTICE BEING “PRODUCERS” AND “CONSUMERS”. THEY ATTEND SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AT STAGGERED TIMES THAT OVERLAP TO CREATE AN AUTHENTIC CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPERIENCE.

SOE MARKETPLACE

SOE MARKETPLACE IS A HANDS-ON SIMULATION FOR ELEMENTARY-AGED STUDENTS WHERE THEY OPERATE THEIR OWN ECONOMY AND EXPERIENCE THE DEMANDS THAT BUSINESSES ENCOUNTER. THE STUDENTS PUT THE SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE THEY HAVE LEARNED IN THE CLASSROOM INTO ACTION IN A FACSIMILE OF THE REAL-WORLD WORK ENVIRONMENT.

MINI TOWN EXPLAINED

Students attending Mini-Town are divided into two different groups. The students who are the producers run the SOE Bank, a loan department, and various food and craft businesses. Jobs include bank tellers, loan officers, rent collector, tax collector, utilities collector, cooks, and craft designers. Each employee will earn two paychecks for the work performed.

Before the field trip, students gather in their teams based on job assignments. They learn what goods or services each shop will be providing in the economy. The children make a sign or advertisement to hang in their shop.

Teammates then work together on a loan application for their business. They will need to borrow enough money to pay expenses like rent, taxes, and utilities. The loan amount also includes salaries and buying supplies from the SOE warehouse. By completing a loan application, students are practicing math addition skills and learning how capital resources are essential to start a business.

WHAT TO EXPECT

At the School Of Economics, the young producers are greeted in a town hall meeting led by certified teachers who review the vocabulary and grade-level economic concepts. They hear about the importance of teamwork in running a successful business that satisfies customers and earns enough money to pay back a loan with interest. Doors open to reveal a marketplace of food and craft shops and the crowd gasps with excitement!

Students check in to their assigned jobs wearing nametags and getting a designated “dot color” for their lunch break. They are introduced to parent and community volunteers with a handshake and smile. Those in the loan department begin processing loan applications, getting contracts signed, and delivering borrowed money to each of the shops. Cooks put on aprons and start reading recipes. Craft designers buy supplies at the SOE warehouse so that the craft assembly can begin. Teams have approximately one hour to follow written directions and make food or craft items before the marketplace opens.

Meanwhile, the second group of students who were designated as consumers, arrive at the School of Economics. They have already earned spending money in previous weeks back at their school. Teachers often set classroom or behavior expectations and reward them with $1.00 per day and use math charts or graphs to track the amount earned. Paychecks are prepared for each student to bring to the SOE Bank on field trip day.

The learning objectives for consumers are to recognize coins, know their values, and to use coins in various combinations when making purchases at the SOE shops. We want them to have a solid foundation and understanding of money before using credit or debit cards. The economic concepts of scarcity and opportunity cost come in to play in very real and tangible ways! Based on the choices, students can conduct a personal cost-benefit analysis.

WRAPPING UP THE DAY

The flow of the simulation is for consumers to preview or “window shop” available merchandise. Then they cash first paychecks and make spending decisions based on needs and wants, including food for lunch. Producers take turns on break also, on a carefully choreographed schedule. Everyone gets to see the relationship between consumers and producers in an economy.

Mid-day there is a period when shops close, businesses asses their sales and remaining inventory, and a deposit is made to the loan department. Students figure out how much more money they need to make to pay back the loan.

There is a second round of consumerism and breaks for producers. Final sales are made, and everyone has a full belly and bag of trinkets to take home. In addition to the food and craft merchandise, students may choose to spend hard-earned money on carnival-type games. The game requires knowing math skills to win (adding doubles, estimating, and counting by tens). The “math carnival” is staffed by parent volunteers.

Consumers can save any unspent money in the SOE Bank for next year’s visit to the School of Economics. Savings earn 10% interest.

After the consumers leave SOE, producers continue to clean up their work areas and deposit sales income to the loan department. The closing ceremony is a review of the simulation and praise for the shop teams which paid back their loan and made a profit. Fun is had by all!

SOE MARKETPLACE EXPLAINED

When schools get ready to attend School Of Economics they complete a series of activities that will prepare them for the SOE Simulation. The first activity that teachers complete with the students is to have them apply for the jobs they would like to have. These jobs include Bank President, Bank Vice President, Accountants, Craft Designers, Cooks, and Health Inspectors. Students apply for the positions that they want by creating resumes and interviewing for jobs. Once the jobs are assigned, the students come together and vote on a City Mayor.

After the jobs are assigned and the students are divided into their shops. The next step to prepare for the simulation is to have the students fill out a loan application to open their shops. They work together as a group to fill out the loan application. The SOE loan application includes the cost of supplies, rent, accounting fees and salaries for all the employees.

The final steps are filling out a shop supply list and pricing their items. Each shop has a minimum of two food items and one craft item that they make and sell to pay back their loan. They use the dollar amount they have requested from their loan to figure out how many “kits” they need of each food and craft item to make. Each kit includes all the ingredients and supplies the students need to make the items. Once they have decided how many kits they need and how much of each item they are going to make, the students work together to figure out the minimum price they need to charge for each item to pay back their loan. The goal of the simulation is for the students to pay back their loans and make a profit. Financial success depends on understanding budgets, supply and demand, pricing, and opportunity cost.

WHAT TO EXPECT

After completing the pre-simulation activities in school, the students arrive at SOE prepared to open and operate their businesses. After a quick town hall meeting with the SOE Lead Instructor, who explains what the students should expect for the day, everyone breaks out and go to their assigned shops. In the shops, the students read the instructions that pertain to their jobs and get started. Shop managers go to the School Of Economics Bank to take out their loans and then to the warehouse to pick up the supplies they have ordered for their shops. Once each shop has their supplies, the students start to make their craft and food items to sell. While the cooks and craft designers are working, the accountants and shop managers work together to get the rest of the shop ready to open.

Students have about an hour to an hour and a half to get their items made and their shops ready to open. When they are ready to open, the students will go on break in three different groups. That way there are always people in the shops to run them while others are shopping. When the students start their breaks, they receive a check for the work they did in school and the morning part of the simulation. They take their check to the bank and must endorse it before they can cash it. Once they have cashed their check, they are responsible for managing their money and their needs and wants.

WRAPPING UP THE DAY

After the first round of breaks is over, all the stores close to restock and make a deposit to the bank. This is also the time that the shop managers find out how close they are to paying back their loans. This will help them decide how they should price their items during the second break. When the students go on their second break, they get a second paycheck. This paycheck is smaller than the first because it only includes the work they did the rest of the time they are at SOE. However, if a student shows that they saved at least $1 from the first break they will receive $1 in interest. During the second shopping period, this is the last time the shops will have the opportunity to earn enough money to pay back their loans.

When the second break is over, the shops close for the day. Each shop has closing procedures that they must follow before they can close. While the shop employees are following the closing procedures, the shop managers are making their final deposit in the bank and finding out if they paid back their loans and made a profit. Once the stores are closed and all the deposits have been made, the students gather for another town hall meeting lead by the SOE Lead Instructor. During this time, it is announced which shops paid back their loans and which ones did not. The group discusses what they learned and what the shops who did not pay back their loans could have done differently.