Economic 'fun'damentals

“Approach me. Approach me,” a young fortune teller calls from the corner of a classroom at Wapakoneta Elementary School.
“Every fortune is guaranteed to come true,” third-grader Robbie Lynch boasts as he is luring in customers.
Consulting his magic ball, the first-time fortune teller said it’s a secret how he predicts the future for his classmates with fortunes such as they will have a million dollars, win a lifetime supply of bacon, or get 10 ducks when they grow up, but it is a fun way to learn about economics.
Third-grade teachers decided to bring all their classes together for the Economics Carnival this year as a fun way to bring the dry topics of producers and consumers, goods and services, capital, human resources, supply and demand, opportunity cost, and scarcity to life for their students in a practical application.
With several students walking around the carnival held in the third-grade wing of the building without tickets before their time to play was up, they said they were learning.
“I’m learning to keep my money so I have it when I need or want it,” said Rylee Cannon, who still had a couple tickets,
but not as many as she would have liked.
She said all the games were fun, which made it even more tempting to quickly cash in those tickets to play.
Sticking her hand up the giant nose of a face on a game board and pulling out slime as a prize, Makayla Frame said was her favorite way to learn about economics.
“It helps us understand what we are reading about,” Jocelyn Jackson said of the carnival, as she helped run a game to use a paper clip to pick up a pop can.
She agreed that not even playing the games, but just running them was fun, although she had a long list of games she was ready to try.
In addition to teaching her about economics, Jocelyn said the carnival also was teaching the students how to work with other people as they ran the booths.
Teacher Wendy Kingston took an opportunity during the carnival to talk with her students about supply and demand for lemonade they made and sold.
While the students said they had sold a lot, it wasn’t enough based on the cost to make the lemonade and the amount they still had left, meanwhile students had sold out of popcorn they were selling down the hall, teaching a lesson in scarcity.
Teacher Kay Dorner said they applied economics concepts they are learning about in class to help plan, create and take part in the carnival.
Each classroom designed a booth or two where they provided goods and services, with half of the class working the booth while the other half enjoyed the carnival and then switching places. Students earned tickets for the carnival during the weeks leading up to it by exhibiting good behavior in the classroom, working cooperatively and completing homework.
Using the tickets at the carnival required many decisions along the way, Dorner said.
“As we learned about various economic topics, we applied them to the planning of our booths at the carnival,” Dorner said. “The students worked together to name the booths, determine the cost to play each game or booth, and determine the jobs needed to run the booths. During the carnival they experienced opportunity cost when they chose which games they wanted to participate in and which they would give up. They had to plan and budget their tickets for an optimal carnival experience.”
Parents donated supplies, prizes and helped with ideas to make the carnival a success, said Dorner, who added that the students seemed to have as much fun planning the booths they were responsible for as they did attending the carnival.
“In the past, economics has been rather boring for the students to learn,” Dorner said. “Having a carnival has made it much more interesting and fun.”