November 26, 2014

Third Grade Economics and Fine Print

The third graders are in the thick of their unit on economics, which includes a business plan, chosen goods or services, a demo product, and an upcoming Market Day when they will try their hands at capitalism.

After much brainstorming and back-and-forthing, and after hearing myself say, "Tuck, stop acting like I don't know anything. Do you realize people used to cheat off my work when I was your age and older?" which was undoubtedly excellent parenting and a great intimidation tactic, we settled on a product we could both get excited about.

Cookies.Frosted Cookies

And as a bonus to the sugar rush, we came up with an irresistible business name that doubled as a marketing slogan: How 'Bout A Cookie?

(It sounded a lot like Barney's "Haaave you met Ted?" from How I Met Your Mother.)

Surely you can see the brilliance in it. The name of the business is also an invitation to buy, buy, buy. Add freckles and braces and third grade charm, and you have a marketing plan that cannot fail.

We completed the four-page business plan.

What is our product? What makes it unique? Who is our target demographic? How much will we charge? What are the start-up expenses? Where will the start-up funds come from? How would we advertise? What are the financial goals?

We decided we would make dozens of two kinds of cookies: a) snickerdoodle, and b) yet to be decided. We would make posters and coupons. We would have clever packaging. We would say the slogan the same way every time, with an engaging timbre, so people would be repeating our brand all day long. He would sell them for fifty-cents each, or three for one dollar.

This got a little tricky when we were working the equation of start-up costs and ingredients and profits and coupons, coupled with donations to the nonprofit from his grandma's kitchen. Because let's not kid ourselves: I'm no businesswoman. I do words, not numbers.

We were well on our way, my friends. We had the first batch of Snickerdoodles ready to go right in the oven so he could pitch his idea and product to the class the next day, gage their responses, and tweak the details of his pricing and financial goals based on supply and demand.

And that's when my son said, with an appropriate degree of alarm, "Oh, Mommy. I forgot to tell you the one rule: no food items."

No. Food. Items.

He showed me the place in his notes where he had written the rule, except that he had switched two of the letters so that his note said, "on food items." I had seen it as a sentence fragment, not a hard and fast rule that would send us back to the drawing board.

Perhaps you can imagine my response. I put my head down on the table, and I made something like a half-laugh-half-cry.

But then I realized that my sweet boy, the one who carries the weight of the world and watches my every move for signs of reason to worry, did not see the humor in this situation. To be fair, neither did I in that moment just then.

Tucker started to cry. And certainly we couldn't both.

Lucky for him, I am very, very, very (emphasis on the very) experienced in procrastination and night-before remedies to the misunderstandings of syllabus shock.

I took a deep breath. Then another.

"Well, load up, buddy. We're going to the dollar store in search of Plan B. Don't worry - I still know how to make this fun."

If anybody needs some, there's cookie dough in the fridge.

2 comments on “Third Grade Economics and Fine Print”

  1. I LOVE this lesson though! To be introduced to this concept this early is so exciting for me.

    Sorry about the cookies.

  2. Oh Tricia. I. Cannot. Imagine.
    I salute you for the job you are doing with those boys - God has given you words and and a way of being with them. I know you are probably not perfect, who is. But you are one amazing woman and I would love to be in the world in which you move. I continue to hang out here and each time I read another story, I ask God to provide you with what you need for the day. I know Dec. 23 is coming. Anniversaries are hard and I pray you will be surrounded by His presence.

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