Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

East Farms Diary: Mall Day part of focus on lessons about money

Fourth-graders turn merchants

Faith Lynch, 9, serves milk and cookies to kindergartners recently during a Mall Day. The students are learning about money management and have come up with their own business plans. (Lisa Leinberger)

The last day of school before winter vacation is always full of parties and crafts, even staff members wearing their finest ugly Christmas sweaters. For fourth-graders at East Farms STEAM Magnet School, the day included putting a business plan into motion.

In Leigh Harless’ and Dani Wicks’ fourth-grade classes, students have been learning about the value of money since the beginning of the school year. They get paychecks of fake money at the end of every week and keep a check register to record any withdrawals or payments.

Debbie Helfenstein said her daughter, Greta, has been learning a lot about money in the class. Helfenstein said she uses a debit card a lot, so Greta doesn’t see many cash transactions. When Greta wanted a laptop and saved her allowance for it, she gave the money to her parents, who used a credit card to buy it.

Abby Borgman said her daughter, Emma, also has been learning about managing her own money.

“When you’re doing your check register, if you are off once, the whole thing is off,” Abby Borgman said.

For last week’s event, students wrote their own business plans for a product they wanted to sell. They wrote about how to market their products, how much to charge and what their competition would be like.

This was the first of four “Mall Days” for the classes. The next time, they will talk about advertising. By the end of the year, they will have made their own commercials, writing their own scripts.

“A Mall Day is where we set up businesses,” Greta Helfenstein said. She set up a table with caramel rolls, candy canes, Christmas cards and homemade soap to sell.

“My mom helped me,” she said.

Every student set up a table with items for sale. There were a lot of cookies and brownies. One student brought a popcorn popper to entice customers with the smell of fresh popcorn. Students Nick Inhofer, Caleb Horton and Tyler Burghard brought in a miniature claw crane game with candy inside. They sold turns on the game, but if customers didn’t manage to pick up any candy, they gave them a couple of pieces anyway.

Corinne Phillips, 10, sold paper wallets she had made and, for a little extra, wrote the name of the customer on them.

“I just started making them because I didn’t have anything to hold my money,” she said.

One of the more creative small businesses was Colin Kramer’s paper airplane-making business. For $2 in fake money, Kramer would fold up a piece of paper into your very own airplane. He said he is very good at making them and has been doing it “since my sister started showing me how to make them.”

Kramer even had tips for flying your plane: The faster you throw it, the slower it will go. If you throw your plane slowly, it will go faster.

Business throughout the two classrooms was booming. Some of the other classes at the school came in to buy treats. Toward the end of the class, many merchants were offering discounts to clear out inventory.

Faith Lynch, 9, sold milk and cookies, with special straws to flavor the milk. Her decision to sell the treats was an easy one.

“Everyone likes cookies and milk,” she said.