Mathematics Archive
Elementary Entrepreneurs

Last week I posted my original wonder bubble unit for non-fiction research in the classroom.  That was one of my favorite lessons to do towards the end of the year, but this one was also a favorite.  Real life examples are important to use when educating students. Every day, students in your classroom visit businesses and stores around town. This unit will take them through an entrepreneurial journey of creating their own business, producing a product or offering a service, and marketing and selling to their peers. This unit encompasses a variety of basic life skills such as money management, business development, marketing campaigns, and friendly competition and correlates to the common core standards and state standards for grades 1-3 (see complete list of standards at the end of this post).

I’ve listed the entire unit plus free printables on my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $5.00.  This unit includes includes a complete scripted unit plan, free printables, unit timeline, common core standards to correlate to the unit, a complete book list, enrichment opportunities, and links to technology to use within the unit.

Unit Outline

This unit covers roughly 4-6 weeks during your math and social studies time.  The foundation of this unit is students’ mathematical understanding of counting money and making change. It is important that prior to this unit, you should do a thorough study of mental math computation, money values, and adding and subtracting money through $1.00. This is imperative so that students feel confident when they are “open for business”. Economic themed literature should also be available in your classroom library approximately two weeks prior to the start of the unit (book list is included in the lesson on TpT).

Because of the sheer volume of information in this unit, I don’t go into too much detail here.  I’ve written down everything in my TpT unit so that I can go into full detail and explanation of each separate part.

Parts 1 and 2 – Introducing goods and services and supply and demand

Your students will be using new vocabulary throughout this unit.  They should learn and use the correct economic terminology whenever applicable because this unit is meant to simulate real-life experiences.  There is a vocabulary list included in the free printable pack on my TpT site.

Part 3 thru 6 – Creating, operating and marketing a student business

This portion of the econ unit is the meat of the unit.  In my scripted unit on TpT, I walk you through how to introduce student businesses, assign student roles within the group, walk you through the steps of the marketing and advertisement piece, and prepare you to open your student market to the public.

Part 7  – The Grand Opening of your businesses

This part is when the students open their businesses for parents, siblings, peers, and faculty members to come shop.  Students are marketing themselves and doing mental math as the customers shop their business and this is an integral part to tie all of the parts of the unit together.  The schedule and preparation for this presentation day is laid out for you in the unit.

Part 8 – Conclusion and what they have learned

The wrap-up of this unit is just as important as the other parts because this is where students are able to have an open discussion to articulate how they saw consumers, producers, supply, demand, and goods and services in action.  Some of the discussions I had with my first graders during this portion were the most memorable of the year.  You’ll see a “click” as students finally understand how the business they created and operated is similar to businesses all around town.  This is also a great place to discuss such real world concepts as bankruptcy.

Below you’ll see photos from the Grand Opening Day over the years that I did this product in my first grade classroom.  Below the photos you’ll find a more detailed description of each image.

EconPic2 EconPic3

1. Parents shop one of our stores that sold “duct tape” products.  They were a hit!  2. and 3.  All set up and ready to sell!  Note the student made logos and price lists.  Also the refreshments that were offered to try to lure customers to their shop.  4.  A nail salon was just one of the services that students provided over the years.  5.  A group that made clay sculptures helps sell their products.  And they also offered chocolate fudge for 25 cents to help entice customers to shop!  6. An origami group cleverly named “Artigami” replenishes their supply on their Grand Opening.

Remember to purchase the full unit and the free printables in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $5.00.  And as always, if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email me.  I’ll be headed to Making Things Happen in Chapel Hill over the next few days, but I’ve got some great posts lined up for when I return.


Tennessee State Social Studies Standard (K-3)

Economics – Content Standard: 2.0

Globalization of the economy, the explosion of population growth, technological changes and international competition compel students to understand, both personally and globally, the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Students will examine and analyze economic concepts such as basic needs versus wants, using versus/saving money, and policy making versus decision-making.

Learning Expectations:

• 2.01 Describe potential costs and benefits of personal economic choices in a

market economy.

• 2.02 Give examples of the interaction of businesses and governments in a market


• 2.03 Understand fundamental economic concepts.

Common Core Math Standards (Grade 2)

Operations and Algebraic Thinking: Add and Subtract within 20

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.B.2 Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.

Number and Operations in Base 10: Understanding place value

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.A.1 Understand that the three digits of a three-digit number represent amounts of hundreds, tens, and ones; e.g., 706 equals 7 hundreds, 0 tens, and 6 ones.

Number and Operations in Base 10: Use place value understanding and properties of operations to add and subtract

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.B.5 Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.B.6 Add up to four two-digit numbers using strategies based on place value and properties of operations.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.B.8 Mentally add 10 or 100 to a given number 100–900, and mentally subtract 10 or 100 from a given number 100–900.

Measurement and Data: Work with time and money.

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.C.8 Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately. Example: If you have 2 dimes and 3 pennies, how many cents do you have?


Technology in the Classroom

I wrote yesterday about my manifesto and one of the things I listed was “putting technology in the hands of the youngest of students”.  I have been fortunate enough to work in schools with an abundance of technology options, but even if you don’t, there are still plenty of ideas and things to do with limited technology.  In this post, I’m just going to give an overview of my favorite sites.  Within each blog post, however, I will almost always link to a website or app that you can use to incorporate technology into your lesson.

Create a Tizmos page

If you aren’t familiar with Tizmos, it’s a website that will bookmark all of your favorite sites in one place.  They are displayed with a thumbnail of the site so it’s easy for students to use and choose which one they need.  Plus you can separate them into tabs for easy access.  My Tizmos page was the homepage on all my computers in the classroom and the students had access to the sites at all times.  Now, I joined Tizmos back in 2009 when it was an unlimited number of sites for free, but recently anything above 30 bookmarked sites is subject to a 99 cent fee.

I’ve made my Tizmos site public so you all can use my bookmarked sites in your classroom.  Click here for my site or click on the photo below. [One word of caution: some are password protected, but see below for log-in information/tips]

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 11.40.06 AM
Audio Book Websites

Audio books were a big part of my daily schedule in the classroom.  As the Sisters mention in their book The Daily 5, “Children come to us with varying backgrounds and levels of family support. [These children] may have missed the auditory support of being read to.  Books on tape, CD, or computer are valuable resources and are also helpful supports for our students who get their first exposure to English when they enter our classrooms.” (Boushey, Moser 2006)  There are some fantastic storybooks sites that my students really enjoyed.  Audio books are really wonderful because you can use them on the computer, the SmartBoard or the iPads.  Here are some classroom favorites:

Scholastic Book Flix – This is my favorite audio site.  The students have a variety of fiction and non-fiction books to listen to and they are often listed right next to each other.  You can sign up for a free trial through Scholastic.  The site on my Tizmos is for Linebaugh Library card holders, so you need a card # and a password.  But, I bet if you Googled “book flix login info” you may be able to gain access.  Maybe.  😉

Storyline Online – Brought to you by the Screen Actors Guild, this site introduces your favorite stories read by some very famous actors.  This site was a favorite of my students almost every year.  And it’s free!

Tumblebooks – [Under “Kids Place PPL” on my Tizmos]  This site has the most audio books listed and for the largest age range (K-12).  Because of the sheer volume of books, my students would sometimes spend their entire “listen to reading” time trying to choose one (so narrow down their options beforehand).  I like this site because it also has fiction and non-fiction and they even have new, recently released titles.  Just be-warned that some stories are very short and some are quite long, so make sure you preview them beforehand.  This site isn’t totally free, but the people of Portland Public Library were nice enough to let us use it.

We Give Books – A partnership between the Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation, “We Give Books is a new digital initiative that enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don’t have them, simply by reading online.”  This site does not have an audio component, as the others do, but it’s still a great site for kids to gain access to stories and to do some good while they’re there.  Plus there is a resources for educators page with extension activities.  This site would be a great service project tie-in to talk to students about the good this organization is doing for children in need.  So far over 1.7 million books have been donated to communities around the world.  And joining is free!

Also on my Tizmos are author sites from Robert Munsch, Mo Willems, and Brian Selznick.  Some of these sites have audio stories and other activities to go with their books.  Author sites are great to visit for lots of literature tie-ins and activities and I recommend visiting an authors website each time you do an author study.  Other audio sites that you’ll see both on and off my Tizmos site are: Read to Me, DustEchos, Smories (original stories written by kids and read by kids), Aesops Fables, SlimeKids, BBC Phonics and Tales2Go (this is also an app, that includes a free trial for desktop or mobile devices).

Math Websites

I used various math websites for enrichment activities but I also used them in small groups with the iPads, in a whole group setting on the SMARTBoard, and also individually for at-home practice.  Here are some highlights from my Tizmos page.

Arcademic Skill Builder – My students and I would use this site for some friendly competition skill based games.  I would put a game on the SMARTBoard and also load the same game on each of the four desktop computers.  By creating a private game, students are able to play against each other (or against other students in the public forum).  I’d have them play against me at the SMARTBoard and each other at the desktop computers.  It’s a great reinforcement for fast-fact memorization and automaticity.

IXL Math – Our school had an IXL license, so if that isn’t the case for you, this website isn’t applicable (You may be able to google “IXL login” for free access, but that’s just a hunch).  IXL is really great for individual math practice and to keep track of student progress within their grade level.  I mainly used it for additional reinforcement because students can go up or back a grade level within each skill.  It also does a great job aligning to the state standards.

Illuminations: NCTM –  The link on my Tizmos is a little outdated, but if you go to or click the link to the left, it should be working.  I think this website is the best for math activities and lessons for students of all ages.  You will have to explore the site to see how you can best use it in your classroom.  There are standards listed, lesson plans, at home practice, games and apps, additional web links to use.  Plus students really use their higher order thinking skills in most of the games and activities.

Greg Tang – This one isn’t on my Tizmos, but I really like it.  I had all the Greg Tang books in my math section of my classroom library and now they are interactive!  (More math literature will be featured in a future post)  Plus I really enjoy Greg’s personality. (I heard him speak at a conference once and if you get the chance – go!  He’s hilarious)  Most of the site is free but some of it you have to register and pay to gain full access.  Some great use of higher order thinking skills is his Kakooma Addition that I used with my first graders who needed extra enrichment towards the end of the year.  The kids were able to work on it at home and the parents enjoyed seeing something different come home.

Other math sites to explore: HoodaMath, FractionFlags, and MathNook.

Science/Social Studies sites

StudyJams – Scholastic’s site for math and science videos.  I used this with my first graders as we studied the water cycle and plants.  Just preview the videos beforehand because some concepts are more advanced for the younger elementary age.

BBC Bitesize – the BBC has put together some fun games and videos for younger elementary ages in english, math, and science.  My students really enjoyed exploring this site during some extra in-class time.

Nat Geo for Kids – I used this site quite a bit during our Wonder Bubble unit. – Videos for kids about all kinds of body and health related topics (some videos have mature content, so preview beforehand)

NeoK-12 – Hundreds of educational videos for kids.  If your school blocks video sites like YouTube, this is a great one to use instead.

Google Lit Trips – “Google Lit Trips are free downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth.”  Ages K-12

The following links are more for your older elementary/middle school age group.

American Memory Project

Civil War @ the Smithsonian

BioDigital Human


How do I use these sites?


These sites can be used in a whole group, small group, or individual setting.  As I mentioned before, I was lucky to have a variety of technology at my students fingertips, but even if you only have one iPad or even one computer in your classroom, use it!  You can get a computer cord to connect your computer to the projector for all students to see or put your iPad on an ELMO projector so each student can see it in a group setting.  Another great way to get technology into your classroom is through the grant process.  I’m planning a future post on grant writing, but for right now, research some local grants in your area or put a project on Donors Choose!  It can’t hurt.

And finally, get creative with technology!  I was once doing a lesson on past, present future and I started to discuss with the kids the way things are now vs. “back then”.  My students had never known a world without cell phones or the internet, so it was fun to bring in old cell phones from the pre-iPhone days to show them how different they were (“They aren’t in color???  No touch screen???)  But one of the things I did that had the most impact, was bringing in an original, first generation Nintendo so my video-game loving students could see the difference in technology and graphics now vs. the way it was when I was their age.  Not only did they have a very difficult time with the controller but a lot of them didn’t know what the graphics were supposed to be!  And they thought the audio sounds were really funny too.


So, be creative!  You don’t need an iPad cart filled with 30 iPads to reach all learners.  Just try to get technology in their little hands as much as you can.  Chances are, they have some kind of iPod, iPhone, DS, iPad, or other gadget already at home.  Why not show them some educational (but fun) ways to use it!  And if you have any other sites or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.  Or attach a link to your own Tizmos page.  I love to hear about new sites!  Good luck!

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