ENTREPRENEURSHIP...IT'S ELEMENTARY!

(Thanks to Ronni Cohen, Claymont Elementary School in Delaware for this group of activities that she uses with elementary school students. Ronni is the organizer of B-School for Beginners, a program she runs to teach elementary school teachers how to introduce entrepreneurship into the primary grades.)

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WHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION???????

The elementary teacher often has so much to teach that entrepreneurship education does not appear in the curriculum. Because it is crucial to let children know that entrepreneurship is a viable career option and the skills are critical in developing problem solving skills, there are many ways lesson can be integrated into existing curriculum.

GEOGRAPHY/LANGUAGE ARTS

Have students take a walking tour of community businesses. Snap pictures of the businesses. When the pictures are developed, have the children construct an entrepreneurial map on a large wall.

Students can practice oral and written communication skills by writing interview questions and conducting interviews of the entrepreneurs. The information from those interviews can be compiled in a directory of the types of goods and services, locations, and hours of the businesses.

  • Discuss the locations of the businesses; is location especially helpful to any particular business?
  • Discuss the signs and advertising of the businesses. Which are most attractive? Why?
  • Are any businesses closed or out-of-business? See if the students can research what happened to the business.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Adapt a few basic questions from a business plan and have students answer these questions for writing activities and projects. Ask each student to think of a project or product that others might be interested in buying:
  • Describe your project or piece.
  • Who will be your audience?
  • Who will look at this piece?
  • How will you make (or produce) your piece or project?
  • What do you need to make this a success?
  • With what or whom will your project compete?

THINKING SKILLS

Teach your students a basic evaluation tool...PMI. Edward DeBono's PMI is as useful for evaluating ventures as it is for evaluating writing, projects, and reports.

P = POSITIVE. What is positive or strong about your work?

M = MINUS. What is a minus or weak about your work? What needs to be changed? What needs to be stronger?

I = INTERESTING. What makes you say "Ah...I wish I had thought of that!"

Use the PMI to revise, redo, or improve the business project.

DECISION-MAKING/COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Teach children to use higher order thinking by this simple decision-making technique to solve problems and make decisions. Assign them the task of using the process for a family or school problem, such as where to eat dinner. The process can be adapted to come up with an idea for a business venture. Use graph paper or design a grid to write down the ideas for each stage..

Six Step Decision-Making Process

  • State the problem
  • List the alternatives
  • List the criteria for evaluating the alternatives
  • Evaluate the alternatives
  • Make a decision

and the step usually skipped....

  • Evaluate the decision

HIGHER ORDER THINKING

Here is a reality check. My friends in Canada use a "POP test" for new ventures. Teach your students to use this adaptation of the test for essays and projects as well as business ventures.
  • P Is the project POSSIBLE with the resources you have?
  • O Is the project ORIGINAL, your OWN idea?
  • P Is the project your PASSION? Will you be PLEASED you did this? Can you PERSEVERE and complete the project?

LANGUAGE ARTS/IMAGING

This is a particularly useful language arts as well as venture creation skill. Collect common and unusual objects and keep them handy. Each day, take out an object. For example, take out a film container. Hold it in your hand for everyone to see and say "I hold in my hand..." And give an unusual response. Then pass the object around for each child to give a response. For example, the film container could be a pill holder, a biscuit cutter, a holder for lunch money, etc. Children learn to see possibilities and look at common items in a new way.

LANGUAGE ARTS/RESEARCH SKILLS

Use the yellow pages for this activity. Have students look for businesses with interesting names. Have a business "scavenger hunt". Use categories for their research such as business names....
  • with colorful adjectives
  • with superlative forms of adjectives
  • that are made up or are nonsense
  • that are foreign words
  • that tell what the business produces or sells
  • that have alliteration (repeated beginning sounds)
  • that are geographic terms
  • that have nothing to do with the business's function
  • that are named after people

LANGUAGE ARTS

Use the newspaper and magazines to collect articles about entrepreneurs. Have students read the article and answer such questions as:
  • How did the person get the ideas for the venture?
  • What is the unique selling point of the good or service?
  • What risks did the person take?
  • Did this person have a mentor or "angel"?
  • Did the person face any obstacles?
  • Does this person have any competition?

LANGUAGE ARTS/SOCIAL STUDIES

Collect newspaper articles and train your class to do the same. Look for articles that talk about seasonal economic problems. Articles such as "BEACH TRAFFIC SENDS VACATIONERS RUNNING", or "HOT SUMMER DRIES UP MELON CROP" can be discussed for entrepreneurial opportunities as well as the impact of the problem on entrepreneurial ventures.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Use the format of an old children's book, FORTUNATELY. Give the children a problem from science, history, the classroom etc. Then play "GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS" to develop fluency in thought and in finding solutions.

GOOD NEWS: The settlers reached what is now Boston.

BAD NEWS: This was not their intended destination.

GOOD NEWS: The Native Americans were willing to help them.

BAD NEWS: ..........

READING LIST

Any of the following books can be used to teach "entrepreneurship" and "related skills" using ideas presented in the above listing of activities.

  • Alexander, Lloyd. The Fortune Tellers. Dutton, 1992 (SELF-FULLFILLMENT)


  • Anderson, Hans Christian. The Emperor's New Clothes. Scholastic: 1977 (ETHICS)


  • Barbour, Karen. Little Nino's Pizzeria. Harcourt Brace: 1987(GROWING A BUSINESS, SCARCITY, OPPORTUNITY COST, BUSINESS PLAN, BUSINESS STRUCTURES, LOCATION, DEMAND, NICHE, SERVICE)


  • Carle, Eric. Walter the Baker. Simon and Schuster: 1995(PROBLEM SOLVING,

WORD OF MOUTH ADVERTISING AND REPUTATION, QUALITY)

  • Charlip, Remy Fortunately MacMillan: 1987 (OVERCOMING OBSTACLES)


  • Cohen, Ronni Inventor's Portfolio E.E.Cats, 1996 (ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ECONOMICS)


  • dePaola, Topmie Tony's Bread Paper Star Books, 1989 (FINDING A NICHE

COMPETITION, UNIQUE SELLING POINT)

  • Dooley, Norah Everybody Cooks Rice First Avenue Editions: 1991 (CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING)


  • Dunrea, Oliver The Painter Who Loved Chickens FSG: 1995 (INVENTION, INNOVATION, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, NICHE, DEMAND)


  • Schwartz, Ellen. Mr. Belinsky's Bagels Talewinds:1997 (ENTREPRENEUR, PRODUCTIVE RESOURCES, DEMAND, SUPPLY, COMPETITION, ECONOMIC PROFIT, NATURAL TALENTS, NICHE, UNIQUE SELLING POINT, NAMING A BUSINESS)


  • Seibold, Jotto. Monkey Business. Viking:1995 (DEMAND, CAPITAL GOODS, PROMOTING A PRODUCT, BARTER)


  • Seuss, Dr. Daisy-Head Mayzie. Random House: 1994 (MARKETING, VALUES)


  • Zimelman, Nathan. How the Second Grade Class Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty. Albert Whitman & Co.: 1992. (GOAL SETTING, CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING, PROFIT, LOSS, COSTS).
(This activity was published in EntrepreNews & Views and is free to copy for use in the classroom. EntrepreNews & Views is published by the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, Columbus, OH.)