Fifth-graders learn about capitalism

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NASELLE - Kaelee walked into her fifth-grade class two weeks ago with several typewritten sheets of inventory, each sheet in a page protector and bound together in a folder.

"Mrs. Emo, these are the items for sale in the store my partners and I are starting. It's called 'Stuff'."

Kaelee and her partners bought a $10 "business license" from the government (their teacher) and opened for business, right next to Dillon's Bakery (food handler's permit required). The Naselle class began with a simple class economy, in which every student held a government-sponsored job, such as office clerk, lab assistant, bank manager, P.U.D. manager, and police officer.

They were paid with "Emo

Bucks," either $35 or $40 a month. Students also earned money by gettingready for class quickly and being on time. Fines were collected for being tardy or noisy. At the end of each month, students paid bills for desk rent, utilities use, and textbook rental. With any extra money, students could purchase items from the government store. Shortly after becoming the government store clerk, Kaelee went home to her mother's shop and learned how

to sell items in a real environment.

But Ollie decided he'd like to make more money than his government artist

job provided. He spear-headed the capitalistic ventures by drawing name tags and charging $1 apiece. Now the class has several retail stores, a desk-cleaning service, a math tutor, two wholesalers, a consignment store, and an ideas factory. One store has a layaway plan. Dillon said, "I earned more in one day of having the bakery open than I earn in a month from my salary!"

The economy has sparked many ideas and much discussion about capitalism. Students are wondering if they'll be taxed on their extra earnings, and several are wishing for interest earned on their savings accounts. Some want to buy their desks so they won't have to pay rent, and a few want to be landlords.

One student wants to buy an empty desk for a "vacation home."

Melanie asked if she could "move in" with another student to save on desk rent.

Thursday 'Stuff' owners announced, "We've been robbed!"

The owners revealed that their duplicate receipts and their cash didn't tally, and that an employee was manning the till while two customers were shopping.

"May we have a trial on Monday?" We'll see. Are all students spending their money?

"No," says Kaelee, "I haven't bought anything. I don't need a thing."

Your children are learning more from you than you realize!

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