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South Jordan Journal

Bags, stress balls, candy: hot commodities at Ram Mall

Oct 01, 2018 03:35PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Students packed the booths at South Jordan Elementary’s Ram Mall, eager to make purchases with Ram Bucks, or pretend money, they earned through doing a good job in the classroom with their assignments or helping in the classroom. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

In a few years, the sandy-blonde student, Brooke Bott, may be a savvy entrepreneur, thanks to the skills she recently gained at South Jordan Elementary’s Ram Mall.

Through a unit where students develop their own business, create a business plan, track their experiences, decide upon marketing and advertising and learn about economics, Brooke came up with successful products that sold out both days of the Ram Mall, an annual event for fourth-graders.

“I made bags because it made sense,” said Brooke of Brooke’s Wallet World. “I thought that everyone couldn’t carry everything they wanted to buy, so I thought it was a good idea. I asked some friends, and they said they’d buy one so I made it my business.”

A successful one at that as during the first day of the two-day event, she sold out of duct tape wallets she made and only had three of the sewed fleece bags she made. That night, she made more with her mother’s help cutting the duct tape.

“More people wanted them, so she spent yesterday making more,” Nicole Bott said.

Early on day two, she sold out completely.

“I had my items priced differently so people could buy what they could afford,” Brooke said. “I understand the concept of supply-and-demand much better now.” 

Fourth-grade teacher Kaye Rachele-Flanery said through about a one-month period students learn about business concepts such as profit and loss, supply and demand, and other terminology. At their cumulating event, Ram Mall, they pay a rental fee for the use of a table and pay for using the microphone to advertise their product, and are able to adjust their pricing in response to business.

“We like to provide services, such as painting nails with fingernail polish or entertainment in the terms of games, as well as products,” she said. “There always are a lot of goods in a food court.”

Rachele-Flanery said it isn’t important if their business is popular or if it fails but if they learn from the experience.

“They’re learning real economics in real life and are learning how to communicate with one another,” she said. “They’re learning how to become good business leaders.”

Through doing a good job in the classroom with their assignments or helping in the classroom with jobs such as passing out papers, being in charge of recycling or being a line leader, students earn pretend money, called Ram bucks, named after the school mascot. This money can be used to purchase items from other booths.

This year, students could spend them at places such as Sunrise Salon or Spin and Snacks, or they could find booths to purchase rock art, slime, rubber ducks or lollypops.

Fourth-grader Isabella Mehn, who was at the Stressatic Balls booth, said she learned how to spend her money wisely after doing classroom jobs to earn it. Her friend, Natalie Roberds, said she watched her income, knowing that their business represented real-life businesses.

“We pretend it’s like real life, so if we both want to check out the other booths at the same time, we have to hire someone to fill in at our booth,” she said. “So, it’s likely we won’t earn much money if we have to pay someone out of our proceeds. It’s really fun working together and coming up with ideas to make.”

Fourth-grade teacher Sandra Clifford said she could sense the enthusiasm of her students.

“They love working together and are so excited to learn all the basics of business so they can use it at the Ram Mall,” she said. “It’s something they’ll use all their life, but from the first day of school, they’re asking when the Ram Mall will be and when they get paid so they have money here.”

She said some businesses coordinate everything from the booth presentation to their outfits.

“We’ve had some students make matching aprons, but for others, it’s to engage their peers in activities and develop their own businesses that interest them,” she said.

Fourth-grader Kacie Hess said she learned she needed more variety after having a slow start of customers wanting glow bracelets and candy. Her classmate, Mahveen Qureshi, made stress balls that interested peers.

“I’m getting good experience in making them and selling them,” Mahveen said.

This year, the Ram Mall invited their buddies in second grade to attend the event and shared their own Ram Bucks, Rachele-Flanery said.

“It was important to them that they had their buddies here, learning and supporting them in the Ram Mall,” she said.

Another customer was Principal Ken Westwood, who checked out the A and B track Ram Mall in May as well as the C and D track event in late June for unique items he can display in his office.

“I bought a necklace made with safety pins and beads,” he said, munching on a cookie, which he also purchased. “I didn’t go for the face paint, and I didn’t get here in time for a wallet. They sold out. It’s just really fun to see the students take the lesson to heart and learn the entrepreneurship skills and be creative at the same time.”