As a part of the fourth grade Financial Literacy Unit, Upland Heights teacher, Brittnee Roles got creative and helped her student learn through real world experience. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for this unit requires that students learn to calculate profit, determine fixed and variable expenses, and understand the different ways to save money. As learning about finances can be tedious and boring for an elementary student, Roles found a way to bring the unit to life.
After learning about variable and fixed expenses, they practiced sorting them and recognizing what makes something fixed vs. variable. Then the students opened a coffee shop to Upland Height staff, so that they could see how profit and expenses are intertwined.
Roles helped the students develop a business plan, where the students had to generate their own fixed and variable expenses for the coffee shop. They discussed how rent, or an automatic monthly purchase of our coffee would be a fixed expense, but how much each syrup they buy, such as pumpkin spice, might vary from season to season.
They determined what expenses were vital to the coffee shop, cups, coffee, etc. Students then had to give a price and they calculated all the expenses for the coffee shop. Then students generated an estimate of what they think the expected revenue might be at the school.
Roles asked staff at Upland Heights to sign up to ‘buy’ coffee from the students. The students ‘sold’ a variety of coffees for five dollars to 46 teachers and staff. After all coffees were made and delivered, the students did multiplication to find the actual revenue and calculated the profit.
Had the student sold coffee they would have had a profit of $137 dollars. Roles and the students talked about what they could do with that money to save or continue the business.
Roles stated that the precedent in her classroom is to have an open mind and find things to love about math, saying, “we may not like math alone, but so many things we like involve math.”
Not only was this activity a way for Roles to bring real world experience to the classroom but opening it up to staff allows the student to have positive interactions with adults and practice some social and life skills that make learning so much more fun.
“I know that my students learn better when it is hands on and relatable,” said Roles. “Letting them have this autonomy of what we sold, what to offer when we sell, and then knowing that they were going to learn math while doing it really motivated them!”