Friday, 9 November 2012

Financial Literacy and Retail Therapy

Year 4 Went Shopping

As part of our current inquiry into "How We Organise Ourselves", Year 4 went on a field trip to spend a bit of cash.

This was a great opportunity that provided the kids with:
i) a chance to use real money in real shops to buy real food
ii) the independence to make their own financial choices
iii) a supported environment where they could "have a go"
iv) some fun outside the classroom

How We Set it Up

As we have about 100 kids in Year 4, we decided to take 2 buses and head in different directions, to meet later in the day for lunch.

Children all brought $10 from home to buy the food they would need for the day. They needed to keep all their receipts and keep a running tally of expenses.

The Fruit Market

First stop was the local fruit market. The children needed to purchase a piece of fruit (or a vegetable) for their morning tea. Most kids had a water bottle with them as a drink.

The first interesting issue came up when children looked at the prices of the fruit.

"I can't buy an apple! They cost $4.99 and I've only got $10.00 for the whole day!" 

What we soon discovered was that prices were advertised BY THE KILOGRAM  - this meant that the apple was in fact much less than $4.99. In fact you could get a whole stack of apples for that much. Once we found the scales, much time was spent calculating the cost of individual pieces of fruit.

Another interesting find was that a student could in fact afford to buy a quarter of a watermelon - it was only $1.50. But could he eat it all? That was not a challenge I was not prepared to entertain, so the student was encouraged to find something else. He looked at raspberries ($6.99 a punnet? Too expensive!) and settled on 2 carrots - only 55c each.

Next Stop - The Supermarket

Having eaten our fruit (or vegetable) for morning tea, we jumped back on the bus and headed for the supermarket to buy some food for lunch.

Once again we were confronted with items that were sold by the kilogram - but by now we were prepared. Yes - the ham did cost $12.99kg, the cabanossi was $16.99kg but if we asked the lady at the deli counter, she was able to weigh out individual slices for us. Did you know you can buy a slice of devon for only 13c? What a bargain!

The next interesting challenge came at the bakery section. You can buy a bread roll of 70c or a packet of 6 for only $2. But one small student couldn't eat all six of them so groups of friends teamed up to buy the rolls together. But how much is $2 divided by 6? 

Same story when we went to buy drinks. The fruit juice also comes in packs of 6. And now, what is $2.50 divided by 6? And if we only have 5 people in our group, who gets the left over juice box?

Finally we got to the checkout. Now came the period of intense negotiation. How are we going to pay for this? Children who were working in groups started by trying to work out how much each of them needed to put in to make the total before they lined up. A much better solution was found by each person putting in the same amount, say $5, and then dividing up the change afterwards.

So What?

Feedback from the public was (mostly) very positive. A few shoppers were less than please to have to share the supermarket aisle with a group of 50 school children. Many other shoppers were  delighted to see the children and asked what they were doing.

One lady that I spoke with thought it was a fantastic idea. "My 13 year old grandson has no idea where money comes from. He thinks it grows on trees," she said. "It a very good idea to have the children take responsibility for their own money."

And the kids loved it.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent practical exercise in mathematics applied to financial management.


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