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South Jordan Journal

Elk Meadows third graders are saving their green, not spending it

Aug 06, 2019 12:52PM ● By Julie Slama

Elk Meadows third graders discuss grocery options as part of their recent Kids Marketplace experience. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Not many places can someone make a monthly house payment for $45, add in furniture for $3 and make it a home with a really cute dog named Fluffy.

But that is just what Elk Meadows third grader Lyndsey Johnson did at the recent Kids Marketplace. With her career as a dentist, she earned $450 per month and made sure she and her family got regular medical care at $15 per check-up.

“I want to make sure I have enough money for everything and to give back a little bit too,” she said.

Her classmate Brenna Walker also said she wanted to contribute.

“I donated to sick children because I wanted to help them get better,” said the pretend oil company owner who also made a monthly salary of $450. “I chose to have a small apartment that cost way less money so I can still have money to go to all the other stations.”

Throughout the multi-purpose room, third graders were in the working world, learning about supply and demand, needs and wants. 

That is just what Jordan School District Work-Based Learning Coordinator Lori Lebeau wanted them to learn.

“We want them to learn to stay within their budget and become responsible for their money in this (mock) business world,” she said. “We give them careers attached with salaries, and they have to make purchases to be able to live. It’s a fun way to teach financial concepts at this age, and it’s something they look forward to all year.”

The Kids Marketplace, which Jordan School District has offered for about 15 years, is the first step in a progression of financial literacy for students. In fifth grade, students attend Junior Achievement Business Town in the Gateway, and in seventh grade, they learn about careers and college. In ninth grade, students explore Reality Town, a more developed mock city. In high school, students enroll in financial literacy classes.

With Kids Marketplace, students are walked through the steps and are given books to learn about finances, savings and keeping a budget, which ties into their math curriculum. 

Students start with a savings account and $200 to $450 as their monthly salary. With a wallet of pretend cash, they must visit the bank, the animal shelter, make contributions to charities, buy clothing, pay for fun and entertainment, buy groceries and pay for medical care, personal care, housing, furniture and transportation. Parent volunteers can bring items such as bandages, trains and cars, games, a Barbie house, groceries and stuffed animals to decorate the booths they staff. 

Many students dress up in their assigned careers, right down to third grader Kat Olsen being a school principal. 

Elk Meadows Principal Aaron Ichimura gave her a personal tour of his office so she could get a sense of what the career is like.

“This is great exposure for students to gain an insight of real-life experiences and what adults face needing to pay bills,” he said. “I remember this event when I was a teacher and how excited the students were for this day. It gives students a sense of different careers and introduce what kind of schooling they may need. They may never have thought about being a school principal, and now, they’re saying, ‘This is what I’m going to do when I’m principal.’”

This is the fourth time parent Stephanie Johnson has volunteered to staff a booth where students visit. This time, she was at the housing table with parent Elissa Olsen.

“It’s fun to hear their comments about them justifying what they’re doing, and they learn to determine how to best approach their expenses,” Johnson said.

For example, two girls decided to share a two-bathroom, three-bedroom house, which ended up being cheaper than if they each bought their own housing options.

Olsen said she appreciated the economics lesson for her daughter and her classmates.

“It’s a wonderful experience where students are learning to manage money and learning what their priorities are,” she said. “Many of them are opting to save rather than go buy a sports car.”