It has become a tradition each year for St. Mary’s fourth graders to try their hand at small business. The young students are tasked with bringing homemade objects to the annual event, which raises money for charity.
“About 10 years ago, I went back to college to get my master’s degree with some other teachers from St. Mary's. We had to choose a focus for our final action research project,” St. Mary’s social studies teacher Stacy Wobschall explained. “I wanted to bring my social studies curriculum more to life for the students.”
Wobschall devised a fun and engaging approach to help students learn more about small business. “So, during our unit on the Free Enterprise System, I decided to have the students actually create their own business and produce a product to sell,” she said.
Since its inception, the event continues to draw in crowds of fellow students and parents who are looking for some fun homemade gifts for the holiday season. “Each year it has gotten bigger and bigger and has been a great learning activity in business and service,” Wobshall said. “We donate all of the money to area organizations of the students' choice.”
“I love to see the creativity in the students’ products. I think when they attend the fair as a younger student, they already have their brains thinking about what they will do,” she said of what she enjoys most about each year’s fair. “I think they enjoy the actual day of the sale when they get to sell their items and make people happy.“
This year’s sale was held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13 at St. Mary’s School in Owatonna. During the sale, the young entrepreneurs were busy making sales pitches to prospective buyers and checking out their peers’ wares.
“My favorite part is getting to make money,” St. Mary’s fourth grader Heidi said. “Then our class is going to decide on a charity to donate it to.” Heidi was selling handmade stickers using a process she learned from her older sister. But she also got to do some holiday shopping for her friends and family, saying, “I’m excited to give them out.”
The small business fair teaches young students about economics while also promoting the importance of giving back. “They learn about producers and consumers. We discuss what it takes to make a profit, and supply and demand,” Wobschall said. “They get to take ownership of what they make and sell and they are very proud of themselves.”
“It is also a lesson in service as 100% of the money will get donated to organizations of their choice,” she continued. “They all know we are very blessed and there are many people who are less fortunate and could use the helping hand!”
Each year the students continue to impress Wobschall and the other teachers with their fun and creative items. “Every student's product is special. I have had everything from homemade apple fruit roll ups to doggie treats to jewelry to bath bombs to slime to Christmas ornaments,” Wobschall said. “There have been hundreds of great products created by fourth graders over the years.”
“The consumers are as excited as the producers and everyone enjoys the sale. The producers will be wearing their Santa hats and selling their wares as we have renamed the actual fair ‘Santa's Workshop.’ Many of the items that the kids make are great gifts for others,” she said. “Often, the students are buying gifts for their family members, which is so neat to see. I am looking forward to the actual sale and the excitement on the students' faces.”
With a heavy turnout, Wobschall expected that this year might just break their record. “The first year we held it we made $200, but last year we came close to $1,000,” she said. “Next week, the students will decide which charity to donate it to.”
After all the sales were tallied, this year’s sale reached a total of $1,078.57. Thanks to all the hard work and dedication from these young tycoons, a local charity’s holiday season will look a lot brighter this year.