I had the pleasure of being present last week when the Fourth Grade school store opened for business, and I was amazed at what I witnessed during the 15-minute window in which goods were bought and sold. Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of this beloved All Saints tradition is the work ethic it clearly instills in the Fourth Grade proprietors. “What's most special about the school store is the level of independence it creates for the students,” said Fourth Grade East Teacher, Ms. Nguyen. “By this time of the year they are completely running it on their own – from set-up to clean-up. As you can see I'm just standing here!”
In addition to developing skills related to independence and work ethic, the school store is designed to reinforce important math skills in a real-world context, Ms. Nguyen explained.
The idea for the school store was born 10 years ago as a way for Fourth Graders to raise money for their three-day trip to Cape May in June. A culminating experience for their year-long study of New Jersey, students visit Cape May, where they climb the Cape May Lighthouse, enjoy a dolphin-watching cruise, and visit the historic Physick Estate, among other activities.
“What I like about the school store is that is a fun and different way for kids to raise money for our trip to Cape May,” said Fourth Grader, Cecily. “It's not just a lemonade stand. Kids have many choices!”
Students rotate through different jobs over the course of the year. Those responsible for Sales and Inventory are responsible for helping customers with sales while the store is open, and for taking inventory of what needs to be restocked before closing. Cashiers are responsible for adding up the cost of the sales, for taking money and for making change – without the use of a calculator! Further, at the close of the day, Cashiers count up the total cash taken in and subtract the starting “kitty” to see how much was taken in for the day. As a class, students are able to look at all of the monies taken in against the cost of the products purchased to determine their gross and net profits.
“I like that I'm always very busy and there's always something I’ve got be doing or someone I can help,” said Fourth Grader, Mike, who was serving as one of the Cashiers the day I was present. “I like being the Cashier and selling all the stuff because it's fun to add up all the things and to use your math skills,” agreed his classmate, Braden. “I like helping out the customers and let them take their time,” said Cian. “And I like doing the math when they give us their things and the money.”
“The school store is much more than a fundraiser,” said Ms. Seubert, Fourth Grade West teacher. “It is a rite of passage for Fourth Graders. Starting in First Grade, students have been excited to shop at the school store and know that one day they will also have a hand in running it.”
Watching the school store in action is it clear that Ms. Seubert is right – students love to shop! “I like that there are many choices of objects, and there are snacks, too!” said Fourth Grader Emilie, who was shopping for the day as she was not on duty.
Third Grader, Sara, who was purchasing Fruit Snacks, highlighters, and mini bubbles, said “I like that (the store) is open every Thursday and that you can buy things and they're not highly priced.”
“The kids look forward to the school store each week,” explained one mom who wished to remain anonymous. “They are very excited to come to spend their allowance and my daughter was excited to get here to work the school store.”
Loyal customers keep a close watch on changing inventory and potential deals, as well. David, who is Third Grade, said, “I like that when they got smaller Fruit Snacks they lowered the price.”
One student said the school store even inspired her to improve her writing skills. “I love to write!” said Second Grader, Brit, who was buying a stamp to send mail through the Pre-K Valentine’s Day Post Office. “Last year, when I was in First Grade, I made it a goal to write as many sentences as I could, and I wrote up to 13!”
While standing there I noticed one student who was not shopping but was looking on intently. When I inquired as to whether she was purchasing anything, Second Grader Kate said, “I forgot to bring my money today, but I like seeing what everyone is getting!”
First Grade parent Ed, who was standing by while his twin children shopped, said, “My kids are so excited about the school store every week. Cameron has been looking forward to it since Monday!” As he turned to pay, Cameron’s plastic bag gave way and his collection of coins spilled all over the floor. “As you can see, his wallet has holes in it!” said Ed.
Maybe the school store should sell change purses!
Feel free to stop by and see the Fourth Grade Store in action. We’re open for business every Thursday at arrival time, from 8:05-8:20am.
Questions? Comments? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org