May 10, 2019 --
Heritage Elementary School students got down to business on Friday morning.
The school's two Grade 7 classes participated in the Heritage Entrepreneur Fair, which transformed the school gymnasium into a vast and varied marketplace. The students, 60 in total, set up shop and sold their products to the rest of the school population and to parents who showed up to check out the offerings. The Grade 7s were responsible for every aspect of their business – deciding on their product, manufacturing it, advertising it, selling it and managing their money. And, even though the Grade 7s were the movers and shakers, every Heritage student felt the influence of the Entrepreneur Fair in one way or another.
"A couple of weeks beforehand, they all practiced financial literacy and they all practiced counting change and the Kindergarten classes learned what each piece of money is and how currency works," said teacher/librarian Jessica Bonin, one of the organizers of the event. "The whole school is involved in that way. And then also, all the posters were up around the school, advertising for these products, and so the kids went around and created a wish list where they added up the things they wanted to purchase, and they did that in math.
"They learn so much," added Bonin, who teaches Applied Design, Skills, Technology (ADST). "It's part of the ADST curriculum. We looked at the learning outcomes and it fits with ideating, creating a prototype. They learn all the financial literacy, creating a ledger, a business plan, marketing and having a storefront."
A couple students also learned about adjusting on the fly. Their sweet idea – making and selling cotton candy – turned sour the night before the fair when their cotton candy machine broke down.
So, what did they do?
"They used their skills and they made lemonade," Bonin said with a laugh. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I really like that. They made a new poster at 8 a.m. (Friday). They scrambled and pulled it together."
Some of the other items for sale were homemade dog treats, choco pretzels, peanut butter tarts, baked bannock, friendship bracelets, colourful stress balls, flower pots, video game colouring books, squishies, bath bombs and perler bead creations.
The squishies – memory foam cut into specific shapes or figures and covered with fabric paint – were the concept of Dawson Jones and were so popular that Jones sold them out before the fair's noon end-time. He started making his squishies (72 of them in total) in September and pocketed more than $100 at the fair.
"I'm really proud of myself because I accomplished my biggest goal in doing this," he said, in reference to selling out his product.
Jones priced his squishies according to their size. His "limited edition" Fortnite squishies ($3.25 each) were popular sellers.
"Everyone wants Fortnite," he said. "That's why I did them kind of the most expensive."
Abbygale Reed made and sold the bath bombs. They were $2 each but, like many of the entrepreneurs, she slashed her price as the fair was ending. Reed had more than $80 in her cash box when she closed the lid.
"Some parents bought them, and some kids for their mothers, for Mother's Day," said the business-savvy Reed.
"I feel good. I was nervous at the start, just with the money and the counting, but I think I did pretty good and I'm happy. I learned how it feels to run a business – how nervous it is but then how exciting it is."
Daniel Castley was responsible for the perler bead creations, which were also big sellers. He made about $90, but of more value to him long-term might be the lesson he learned. And that was: "Not to procrastinate, because otherwise you're up all night making them," Castley said with a grin. "In the past two days I made like 40, and I had 49 so I made nine before and the rest the last two nights. It was pretty intense.
"I feel amazing now – I'm $90 richer."
Once the final overall proceeds from the Heritage Entrepreneur Fair are tallied, five per cent will be donated to the SPCA and another five per cent will go into the school's Grade 7 graduation fund.
"I think that's really good because then kids aren't just taking money and just spending it all," Reed said.
"This was just really fun and I hope they keep this going at our school."