Lynn Fripps Elementary students, about 90 of them, just learned that business is harder than it looks. They took part in the Power Play Young Entrepreneurs program.
Jennifer Fernandes, a teacher-librarian and technology teacher, said the program fits in with the Applied Design Skills Technology and the career education curricula, and also gets the students using skills such as math, science, problem solving, technology, public speaking, and more.
The students had to not only create a product but also market it and sell directly to customers.
The products were specifically built at home to involve parents.
Kayden Blissett worked with his dad to make tooled leather bookmarks.
“He taught me how to do this,” the Grade 5 student said of his dad. “I really enjoyed it. I think that me and my dad will continue this.”
Uma Milacic also wants to continue making and selling her suspended perch for pets, something she hasn’t seen in pet stores.
“I decided to make it, because I love animals,” she said. “They can climb on it and eat on it, and maybe even birds can sleep on it.”
Her company is Paws and Claws Pet Products.
Her own guinea pigs quickly took to using the suspended perches and it is their photo on the packaging.
“It can be used for all rodents and birds and rabbits, because rabbits are not rodents,” she said.
But the pet perch cost $12.50 to make and they were sold for $15 so Uma has learned that she must either source less costly supplies or increase her price. She also learned that the marketplace can be fickle.
“I learned that having a business is harder than it looked,” she added. “You can make lots, but it ends up that some people might not buy it.”
Fernandes said the students were often learning new skills without realizing.
“The kids are taking part in many curricular areas and they don’t even realize it,” she said. “For example, the math lesson where students have to figure out their profit, loans and charitable donations is a significant real-world numeracy application, and they don’t even realize they are doing math.”
The students who did not sell out of their products at Friday’s market which was open to the school community were allowed to take part in Saturday’s Christmas craft fair.
“Seven Young Entrepreneurs participated in the craft fair on Saturday, and all students successfully sold out of their products. We have raised close to $300 in charity donations,” noted Fernandes.
The students had to suggest a charity that they would like to support with a percentage of their profits. Now that the sale is past, they will vote on those suggested charities and the funds will be dispersed.
• Learn more about Power Play young entrepreneurs
The program started in late September. Typically the program is offered to older students but Fernandes sees her elementary school students learning a great deal.
“To see some of the more quiet students step out of their shell and try to get people to their tables to buy their products was quite impressive,” Fernandes commented. “I heard slogans and pitches that we talked about in class, but the kids personalized it and really sold their businesses to the crowds. I got teary eyed when I walked in and saw the engagement from the Young Entrepreneurs and their customers. They really impressed me. It made the hard work worth every second, I love when I can see my students happy and engaged in something different.”