Economics lesson turns into community outreach

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Heritage 4th graders raise $525, use to sponsor Angel Tree

By Todd Martin

The fourth-grade teachers at Heritage Elementary School wanted to put together a program to teach their students about economics.


So teachers Sarah Beth Gomelsky, Kristen Hart and Devon Scrogham put together a unit where the students purchase raw materials, create an item and then sell those items on the “open market” at school.

The students created bracelets and necklaces out of yarn and beads out of beeswax, and sold them to the student body for one week before school.

“Our students became expect finger knitters,” Hart said jokingly.

But, what was to come of the money the students raised from the wares?

“We wanted to find a hands on project, something with a real world connection,” Hart said. “And we wanted our students to get involved with the community. So we set the goal at raising one hundred dollars to support an Angel from the Angel Tree.”

Little did the teachers or fourth-grade students know just how popular the items would be. The class raised about $525, enough for five angels.

“We were totally surprised,” Hart said.

And the students, they ended up learning much more than just a economics lesson.

When asked what she learned from the project, Brooklyn Smith didn’t mention supply and demand, bookkeeping or even craftsmanship.

“We learned to respect others that don’t have as much,” she said. “We learned to give back.”

Several class members and the teachers met at Walmart on Tuesday evening to load up on items, and as they raced through the store picking up games, art supplies and, of course, toys, they talked about the process.

“We thought we should try to support the community,” Hart said as the group walked back the arts and crafts section for some markers and drawing supplies.

They handed out note cards with items for each student to pick out for the angels, including clothes.

“Making the things was my favorite part,” Smith said. “The necklaces and key chains, all the jewelry, but I’m pretty happy that we get to help somebody, too.”

Grace Clark, another students, was checking out the Lego sets for her Angel while she explained that it was going to be nice to make sure somebody “had a good Christmas.”

 “It’s a lot of fun buying for the Angel,” she said. “We learned that you can use whatever you have to help somebody else. We didn’t think we’d raise that much money, but now we get to help five people instead of just one.”

Hart noted how the students really embraced the project, and “became entrepreneurs to sell the finished products.”

And while the students were very successful with the classroom topic of economics, they were even more successful with the side project of becoming involved in the community.

“It was a huge success,” Hart said.