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South Jordan Journal

Third graders role model in careers, learn value of the dollar

Jun 15, 2020 12:53PM ● By Julie Slama

Third grader Kayden Robinson made her career as a mail carrier look “cool” as she learned about financial literacy at Daybreak Elementary’s Kids Marketplace. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Changes were made, and when parents and teachers learned Jordan School District’s work-based learning department wouldn’t be holding Kids Marketplace for third graders after 15 years of offering the program, they acted.

Checking out the supplies this spring, several schools, including Daybreak and Welby, held their own Kids Marketplace events, which is the first step in a progression of financial literacy for students. 

The progression includes fifth grade students attending Junior Achievement Business Town at the Gateway and in seventh grade students learning 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 to learn about finances, savings and keeping a budget, which ties into their math curriculum. 

Daybreak third grade teacher Angela Green said it’s a fun learning experience for her students.

“This year, we had to organize it, check out the supplies for two weeks and after teachers talked about the material, parents took the time to help us lead this experience,” she said. “It’s giving students a general exposure to money management, savings and prioritizing their spending.”

At Welby, third grade teacher Jennifer Maples said after reading financial literacy books, they talked about their roles. 

“We want them to understand what their job is and the difference between careers and say, a high school job, and what’s involved in the education and understanding of the field,” she said. 

Students start with a profession — in some classes, it’s assigned, and in some others, they choose it for themselves — a savings account and $200 to $450 as their monthly salary. 

With a wallet of pretend cash, students must visit the bank, the animal shelter, chance, contributions to charities, clothing, fun/entertainment, groceries, medical, personal care, housing, furniture and transportation. Items such as bandages, trains and cars, games, a Barbie house, groceries, stuffed animals and other items parent volunteers bring in decorate the booths they staff. 

“Parents volunteered at 24 stations after teachers went over money management, needs and wants, and creating a budget,” said Daybreak parent volunteer coordinator Jeni Viernes. “This is a big event, something the kids look forward to and are excited to manage their own money, and parents say is important for them to learn. Students are experiencing real life in a simulated experience, and they realize they can’t buy an expensive car if they are short on paying utilities. It’s giving students a different perspective about money.”

It was Anthea Aiono’s third time helping with the Daybreak event that teaches life skills.

“This is giving them a taste of reality,” she said. “My daughter came home and said she was a nurse. She learned all about what an ER nurse does, the expectations of the career, and then, what her assigned life scenario included, paying a mortgage, paying for a car, groceries, utilities. It prepares them for the real world.”

That was something Daybreak third grader Rachel Suek discovered as she was looking at homes and was going to settle on one, when she realized she’d only have $9 to live on the rest of the month. So, she selected a smaller place.

“I learned I have to spend money wisely if I want to have a better life. If I don’t, I may have to sell my house,” she said.

Welby’s Maples said that at each station, they need to count out their money and change. If they do indeed run out, they need to talk to the teachers to identify ways they can modify their spending and prioritize.

“We let them exchange payments, but in real life, some things you can’t return, and they seemed to understand that,” she said. “I expect the students have a small taste of their parents’ and grandparents’ experiences, and they will appreciate money more and understand needs versus wants.”

Daybreak’s Izzy Viernes was a news reporter who made $300 per month and prioritized her spending.

“I spent money on medical bills, groceries, housing, clothing and a dog named Crystal,” she said. “I saved my money, got a small apartment and did everything so I can get a golden retriever, which I plan to walk all the time.”

Welby third grader Eden Ashby said her favorite part was saving up to get two bunnies.

“I had to make sure I paid for what I needed to first. and I even donated to help people who were sick get better,” she said.

Her classmate Callen Bradley saved money by getting an apartment with a roommate and buying a car instead of a truck he wanted to save money to buy a hamster as a pet.

“I learned responsibility, made sure I’d save money and figured out what I can afford,” he said.

Several students dress up to match their career such as medical personnel wearing scrubs or military officers wearing fatigues 

At Daybreak, third grader Kayden Robinson was a mail carrier.

“I decided that people weren’t picking this job since they didn’t see it as a good job, so I decided to make it look cool,” she said.

Kayden and her dad spent about eight hours creating a cardboard box mail truck, painting it, stenciling the logo and having a place where she could pretend to drive it around Kids Marketplace.

“It’s been very fun,” she said. “I got to spend a lot of time with my dad, and I’ve learned a lot about money here.”