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Log Cabin General Store

June 14, 2010

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASetting up the General Store

The colonial unit was completed!  It was a grand success and I felt great!  Now to start working on the next adventure!  I wanted to have the students make change.  They are all great doing it on paper but I have found when they have to actually make change, they kind of freeze.  So I worked with all the students on how to count up when making change.  Some, like in all things, caught on quickly, while others had to work a little longer on it.  Some of the students played a game to reinforce it, others did worksheets that were appropriate for them. Only when all had made change counting up, then it was time to open the general store.

To prepare for the store, I made special play money.  My son said it was goofy, but perfect for what I was doing!  So I made $1., $5. and a $10. bill with Benjamin Franklin (I changed the quote to fit the bill… Sarah loved the one buckaroo on the back!)

George Washington, changing the text a little…

and Anne Bailey (we learned about her when we studied the colonial era and I thought it was time a female was honored on a bill).

Rita and I decided that in order for the students to actually buy things from the store, they need to earn some cash.   We planned to pay them for coming to school and doing their “work”. This is how we paid them with our special New Morning School bills:

  • If they completed their work and could show it, they were paid $5.00.
  • If they cooperated with each other, the aides and the teachers, they were paid another $5.00.
  • If they came to work on time, $1.00 extra!

When we first announced it, the students were full of questions, like: What can we buy?  Can we keep it?  Is it real money?  They were eager to start but they soon found we were serious about how we would pay them.  During the group decision we had to stop frequently to bring them together again and after the second time we said, “I think this comes under not cooperating.”  At the end of the day no one was paid for cooperating with the teacher, that set the tone for the next 2 weeks.

After the long holiday weekend, we are opened the Log Cabin General Store – inside, of course, the log cabin the students had built.  On Wednesday afternoon I had the oldest students in our multi-age classroom help me set up the store.  I had task cards made out so every could help in whatever way they wanted. I needed:

  • a sign made up
  • the cash drawer counted out (we started with $50. like in a real store)
  • merchandise organized, labeled and priced
  • purchasing slips for buying extra reading, playing a game,
  • purchasing slips if everyone wanted to buy a picnic lunch or free time
  • tables set up for the cashier and the merchandise
  • design a receipt

They worked like little beavers, eager to help set up the store and get a chance to see what there was to buy.

On Thursday the Log Cabin General Store officially opened!  The youngest students were the first to go through it and found making change when you have a line up is hard.  From then on he students signed up – one as the cashier and one as the shopper.  They would switch off after 10 minutes (this gave both a chance to be the cashier and the shopper).  I wanted everyone to be a cashier and to work on the skill.

Little would I have guessed that merchandise that has been in the prize box for perhaps years, sold like hotcakes!  There were books, McDonald’s toys, leftover Halloween trinkets, beaded necklaces, mazes, bubbles and more.  We sold most of it over the course of 8 days and everyone had an opportunity  to be the cashier and practice making change!  I would definitely do this activity again.  The kids really enjoyed it and they were practicing their math skills in a real life situation.

Think of ways you can make math real and kids will want to do it.

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