Entrepreneurship... It's Elementary
Adapted from curriculum created by Ronni Cohen, Claymont Elementary School, Delaware and reprinted with the permission of the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education.
Why Teach Entrepreneurship Skills?
The elementary teacher often has so much to teach that entrepreneurship education does not appear in the curriculum. Because it is crucial to let children know that entrepreneurship is a viable career option and the skills are critical in developing problem solving skills, there are many ways lessons can be integrated into existing curriculum.
Take students on a walking tour of community businesses. Snap pictures of the businesses. When the pictures are printed, have the children construct an local entrepreneurial map on a large wall.
Students can practice oral and written communication skills by writing interview questions and conducting interviews of the entrepreneurs. The information from those interviews can be compiled in a directory of the types of goods and services, locations, and hours of the businesses.
Discuss the locations of the businesses; is location especially helpful to any particular business?
Discuss the signs and advertising of the businesses. Which are most attractive? Why?
Are any businesses closed or out of business? See if the students can research what happened to the business.
This activity adapts a few basic questions from a business plan and asks students to answer these questions for writing activities and projects. Begin by asking each student to think of a project or product that others might be interested in buying. Then ask them to:
Describe your project or piece.
Who will be your audience?
Who will look at this piece?
How will you make (or produce) your piece or project?
What do you need to make this a success?
With what or whom will your project compete?
Teach your students a basic evaluation tool... PMI. Edward DeBono's PMI is as useful for evaluating ventures as it is for evaluating writing, projects, and reports.
P = POSITIVE
What is positive or strong about your work?
M = MINUS
What is a minus or weak about your work? What needs to be changed? What needs to be stronger?
I = INTERESTING
What makes you say "Ah...I wish I had thought of that!"
Use PMI to revise, redo, or improve the business project in the previous activity.
Teach children to use higher order thinking by this simple decision-making technique to solve problems and make decisions. Assign them the task of using the process for a family or school problem, such as where to eat dinner. The process can be adapted to come up with an idea for a business venture. Use graph paper or design a grid to write down the ideas for each stage.
Six Step Decision-Making Process:
- State the problem
- List the alternatives
- List the criteria for evaluating the alternatives
- Evaluate the alternatives
- Make a decision
and the step usually skipped:
- Evaluate the decision
Higher Order Thinking
Here is a reality check. My friends in Canada use a "POP test" for new ventures. Teach your students to use this adaptation of the test for essays and projects as well as business ventures.
Is the project POSSIBLE with the resources you have?
Is the project ORIGINAL, your OWN idea?
Is the project your PASSION? Will you be PLEASED you did this? Can you PERSEVERE and complete the project?
This is a particularly useful language arts as well as venture creation skill. Collect common and unusual objects and keep them handy. Each day, take out an object. For example, take out a film container. Hold it in your hand for everyone to see and say "I hold in my hand..." And give an unusual response. Then pass the object around for each child to give a response. For example, the film container could be a pill holder, a biscuit cutter, a holder for lunch money, etc. Children learn to see possibilities and look at common items in a new way.
Language Arts/Research Skills
Use the Yellow Pages for this activity. Have students look for businesses with interesting names. Have a business "scavenger hunt." Use categories for their research such as business names...
with colorful adjectives
with superlative forms of adjectives
that are made up or are nonsense
that are foreign words
that tell what the business produces or sells
that have alliteration (repeated beginning sounds)
that are geographic terms
that have nothing to do with the business's function
that are named after people
Use the newspaper and magazines to collect articles about entrepreneurs. Have students read the article and answer such questions as:
How did the person get the ideas for the venture?
What is the unique selling point of the good or service?
What risks did the person take?
Did this person have a mentor or "angel"?
Did the person face any obstacles?
Does this person have any competition?
Language Arts/Social Studies
Collect newspaper articles and train your class to do the same. Look for articles that talk about seasonal economic problems. Articles such as "BEACH TRAFFIC SENDS VACATIONERS RUNNING", or "HOT SUMMER DRIES UP MELON CROP" can be discussed for entrepreneurial opportunities as well as the impact of the problem on entrepreneurial ventures.
Use the format of a children's book, Fortunately (MacMillan, 1987).
Give the children a problem from science, history, the classroom etc.
Then play "good news/bad news" to develop fluency in thought and in finding solutions.
GOOD NEWS: The settlers reached what is now Boston.
BAD NEWS: It was not their intended destination.
GOOD NEWS : The Native Americans were willing to help them.
(and so on)
Any of the following books can be used to teach entrepreneurship and related skills using ideas presented in the above listing of activities.
Alexander, Lloyd. The Fortune Tellers. Dutton, 1992.
Anderson, Hans Christian. The Emperor's New Clothes. Scholastic, 1977.
Barbour, Karen. Little Nino's Pizzeria. Harcourt Brace, 1987.
(building a business, scarcity, opportunity cost, business plan, business structures, location, demand, niche, service)
Carle, Eric. Walter the Baker. Simon and Schuster, 1995.
(problem solving, word of mouth advertising, reputation, quality)
Charlip, Remy. Fortunately. MacMillan, 1987.
Cohen, Ronni. Inventor's Portfolio. E. E.Cats, 1996.
(entrepreneurship and economics)
dePaola, Topmie. Tony's Bread. Paper Star Books, 1989.
(finding a niche, competition, unique selling point)
Dooley, Norah. Everybody Cooks Rice. First Avenue Editions, 1991.
(creative problem solving)
Dunrea, Oliver. The Painter Who Loved Chickens. FSG, 1995.
(invention, innovation, entrepreneurship, niche, demand)
Schwartz, Ellen. Mr. Belinsky's Bagels. Talewinds, 1997.
(entrepreneurs, productive resources, demand, supply, competition, economic profit, natural talents, niche, unique selling point, naming a business)
Seibold, Jotto. Monkey Business. Viking, 1995.
(demand, capital goods, promotion, barter)
Seuss, Dr. (Theodor Geisel). Daisy-Head Mayzie. Random House: 1994.
Zimelman, Nathan. How the Second Grade Class Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty. Albert Whitman & Co., 1992.
(goal setting, creative problem solving, profit, loss, costs)