As we are starting our veggie garden, I am reminded of the end of our gardening season last year. We had so many extra vegetables that the kids set up a vegetable stand – and had a blast. Creating a business is such a fun activity for kids – and also FULL of math activities!
Setting Up Your Own Business (and sneaking in lots of math activities too)!
My daughter is queen of running her own businesses. Mind you, she does change her business often, as often as her interests change (which is about as often as her shirt changes), but she pulls her learning from one business to the next.
Here are some popular business ideas for kids:
- Lemonade stand
- Cookie stand
- Bracelet stand
- Vegetable stand (from the summer garden)
- Pet sitting
Now, how to turn those wonderful summer fun activities into meaningful math activities – and how to teach your wee ones to make the most profit too!
I don’t suggest doing this in a step by step nature. You would likely beat the fun right out of the activity if you tried. I am far more sneaky with adding these math activities in. I check in frequently, ask questions, and when asked offer suggestions for learning. But children learn best when they try something all on their own, it doesn’t go quite as planned, and they re-try differently. Having a supportive adult to offer encouragement and perhaps suggest some of the below ideas that may have been forgotten is always very helpful. Here are some of the stages at which meaningful learning activities may sneak there way in (insert evil laugh)
- Deciding on a business
- Deciding on any costs associated with the business
- Setting goal
- Researching rates and prices and setting them
- Deciding on advertising and creating the ads
- Beginning the business!
Let’s look at each area in detail, with specific learning activities that can happen at each stage:
1. Decide on a business
It is ever so important to let your child decide on which type of business he or she would like to begin. It is important your little one is passionate and engaged in whatever the business may be about. Learning only truly happens when we are engaged in activities.
A great reading activity to do at this stage is a Mind Map. Put the word “INTERESTS” or “BUSINESSES” in the middle of a piece of paper and draw a circle around it. Have your child brainstorm all sorts of businesses of interests around the circle. At this point it doesn’t matter at all if the ideas are feasible. You are just brainstorming. Madeline’s Mindmap might look like this:
Next, cross out any ideas that aren’t really going to fit with a summer business. Look at all other options and decide.
2. Decide on any costs associated with the business.
Almost all business will have some costs associated with them. This is where the fun math activities begin! Support your wee one as he or she begins to think about ALL costs associated with the business. Two main areas are: cost for materials and cost for advertising. Madeline’s latest business was a bracelet stand. Her costs were: embroidery thread, beads, string, Bristol Board and markers. The things we had around the house I told her she may have. Therefore her cost for the stand was some new embroidery thread, more beads, and Bristol Board. After some math she discovered she would need $7.50 to create her business. She declared, “That’s a ton!” which made me smile. I paid more then that for her Yogurty’s last night – darn those gummy worms!! The innocence of childhood.
3. Set a Goal
This is another wonderful math activity. Your child can set a goal for their business. Often this goal is money. Maybe your child wants to make a certain amount of money for a certain reason, or maybe it is more for fun. If your child is not very motivated by money yet, perhaps they would be interested in raising money for a charity – or raising money to buy something for a charity. My daughter set her goal for $20. After some probing questions – which went something like this:
Mama: So what is your goal?
Mama: So how much money will you need to make?
Madeline: Ummm … $20
Mama: Are you sure?
Mama: weren’t there some other costs you had?
Madeline: Oh right – $7.50 to start the business. So I will need to make $27.50
Madeline had discovered she needed to make more than her goal to account for overhead. Excellent. Without even knowing it – very meaningful math has already taken place. And it is only 9:00 am on a Saturday. That makes a Mama happy!
4. Decide on Prices
This is always an interesting math activity. You will likely gain a better understanding of how your wee one understands money. This step also generates some wonderful math. Have your child decide on prices for what they are selling or for the service they are providing. My daughter, at one of her first stands, thought she would sell lemonade for a penny a cup. Some quick playing with our jar of pennies led her to realize she would need to sell the lemonade for more or sell lemonade until she was a teenager to reach her $10 goal.
Using play money is an excellent idea for this step. Many wee ones need visuals and manipulatives when doing math activities. If your child wants to sell something for 25 cents have a bunch of quarters (or even cut up paper, beans, beads, anything really that can represent one quarter) and let your wee one see how many items they would need to sell to reach their goal. For example:
Madeline’s Goal: $27.50
Suggested Price of each bracelet: 50 cents
Activity: We used cheerios. Each Cheerio represented 50 cents and therefore one sold bracelet. She recognized that 2 Cheerios would equal $1, so she used the cheerios to figure out how many bracelets were needed.
She could clearly see she would need to sell 55 bracelets to reach her goal of $27.50. She declared it achievable
5. Deciding on Advertising
This is an excellent and fun learning activity for wee ones. They can get creative and think up catchy slogans, practice rhymes and plays on words, and also practice colour choice to gain attention.
Or they can keep it simple – which I LOVE. When I pointed out the spelling error she smiled and said it was okay. She thought people would think it was cute and get her more customers. What a business person!
6. Beginning the Business
As your little one begins his or her business there will be plenty of opportunities for math activities, as well as reading activities.
Your wee one will need to speak with customers, which will help oral language development and will also help them begin to understand how you may speak to people differently in different contexts (you would speak differently to a friend than to a customer). Younger siblings can learn a lot helping out in this area.
Math activities will also be abundant. Creating change, making deals, and changing prices will all likely come up at some point throughout the business
Having a lemonade stand or other small business venture is a cherished part of childhood. It is activities such as these that make math activities and language activities so meaningful to children.
My daughter started doing stands when she was about 5. Now at the age of 10 it is truly amazing how much more “business sense” she really has.
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