The Very Last Assignment You’ll Have to Grade This Year

Well howdy and welcome back to Monday,

I know you’re probably still reeling from the Teacher Appreciation Week euphoria and wishing you could just sit and be appreciated for the rest of the year.  You may be finished with testing or getting ready to start.  If you have not begun, here are some helpful hints to get you through.  If you are finished with testing…WHOO HOO FOR YOU!  I’m sure it’s a huge weight off your shoulders and now you can move on.  So here’s what I’m thinking, why not do only one project the rest of the year?  Your students get hands on learning, practice “real life” skills, and they’re exposed to numerous academic concepts.  What is this magic project, you ask? It’s a class store.  This is the perfect year-end project when testing is over and you’re not sure what else to do.  Use this time to have some fun, teach your students a lot of real-world skills, and be truly amazed at how awesome your students are!

Now this is no ordinary class store, because we’re going to squeeze every ounce of hands on learning from it.  I gave you a short overview in my post The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Project-Based Learning.  Now of course PBL, as they call it over at the Buck Institute for Education, at first seemed to be very daunting.  I wrote an ultimate beginner’s guide because that’s what I needed.  I kept hearing this fun buzzword circling around the academic world and thought, I’m pretty sure that’s an awesome idea.  Then again, I didn’t know until I did my research.  Boy was I right!

Essentially it’s taking a real-life situation and turning it into a hands on learning experience.  You’re showing students that many concepts they learn in school can be applied to life once they become adults.  This is a great way to not only engage students, but to help them take responsibility for their learning.  They see that what they are learning actually matters.


As I mentioned in my ultimate beginner’s post, if you’re a teacher of younger students you may be thinking, ain’t no way my kiddos are doing that.  So, how do we make this effective for little guys?  Now by little, I do mean probably old enough to do some writing so maybe late Kindergarten.  You can always discuss in groups or as a class and have them copy a few sentences.  I suggest 3-5 sentences based on the age group.  If you have older kiddos, the sky is the limit.  See what they can teach you.  If you would like to stop here, and figure out your own project to do, here’s a nice little search engine for you!

For the next few weeks, I will be taking you step-by-step through this class project and you can follow right along with me.  Please understand that my goal here is hands on learning life application and may not strictly adhere to the PBL specifics listed on the bie website.  That being said, I will incorporate as much of this well-tested program as possible.  Ready?


Week 1
PBL Standards: 

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills
  • Challenging Problem or Question
  • Sustained Inquiry
Academic Objectives:
  • Reading charts and graphs
  • Constructing questions
  • Writing cohesively about a topic
  • Collect information from multiple resources

To Start
If you have not discussed goods and services already, do so.  You want something easy, fun, and already put together for you, and includes a fun song that they will remember? Hop over to our store for an entire Goods and Services Bundle you can do one week.
If you have already taught goods and services, review key terms with your students.  Tell your students they will be putting together a store.  They will become producers and they are going to sell goods or services.  For the purposes of this step-by-step, we will be getting more specific.  Your students will be running a flower shop.

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Business Plan
The first objective your students must complete for a successful business is a business plan.  There are a number of ways you can do this as a business plan is very involved.  You can:

  • Split students into no more than four groups, present by category, combine most popular elements into one large class business plan
  • Work on a plan together as a class

Choose the option that fits your class best.  Give them “brainstorming time” to sit and think quietly each time you ask for feedback.  You can get business plan templates on Powerpoint or

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Here is a brief synopsis of each category

Mission statement: Describe in one or two sentences what your company wants to do.  It’s actually good to not do this step first because the mission statement also sets your students apart from their competition.  It defines and differentiates their business.  They need to fully understand their business before they can provide a mission statement.  Our mission statement is:
Inspire students and teachers with cross-curricular, standards-based resources that create a lifetime of learning, discovery, and innovation.
It tells you what we offer and what ideals we adhere to as a company.  Tell your students to think of a statement that both gives a broad overview of the main goal, and highlights the qualities that make the business unique and desirable.
The Team: Pretty self-explanatory.  You would likely just say Mr. or Mrs. so and so’s class.  You can list leadership if you’d like.  It all depends on your students’ interest.  It’s been my experience with children that they all want to be the boss!
Market Summary: Ok this can get very complicated.  For your sake and the sake of your students, just have them think about, or even research the flower-buying industry.
Have them answer the following:
  • Who buys flowers?  Who sells flowers?
  • What types of flowers can be bought/sold?
    • They will discover that they can either sell cut flowers or potted flowers
  • Where are flowers bought?  Where are flowers sold?
    • You might want to provide them with some graphs that show the most popular sources for people buying flowers
    • Have them make lists of places they know flowers can be bought
  • When do people buy flowers?
  • Why do people buy flowers?
  • How do people get flowers?
    • Are they delivered? Are they purchased at a store?
Opportunities:  This plays on the “why” of consumers buying flowers.  A successful business always solves a problem.  Have students think about the problem their flowers are solving for consumers.
Business Concept:  This is just the basis of your business and again how it is different: You will be selling flowers, but what kind?  How will you sell them?  How do you stand out?
Competition: Again, have students look at those graphs you provided.  Which stores are selling the most flowers?  Now have students think about how they are different and better than those big stores.  Make a list.
Goals:  Every good business has goals.  The template will tell you 5-year goals, I would just set goals for the end of the project.  Then list smaller weekly goals that lead to the final goals.
Financial Plan:  You will have to skip this step because students will first have to determine the specifics of what they are selling and what it will cost.  I recommend this for week 2.
Resource Requirements:  This will also have to be discussed once the financial plan is established.
Risks and Rewards: Every good business needs to understand what they can gain and what they can lose.  This is a great way to show your students that failure is not always bad.  You can read more about that in our article 3 Good Reasons to Celebrate Failure.
Key issues: Since you don’t have an actual budget, there is the matter of obtaining the flowers.  Send home a letter with your students requesting that parents take them to the nearest flower retailer to request donations for your classroom.  Once they’ve decided on fresh cut or potted, they can decide which retailer to visit.
If this step doesn’t take all week you can move on to flower research.  If you have time, it’s best to be as genuine as possible.  This means real flowers and if manageable, a real selling platform, ie: night for parents to come and purchase, or give students throughout the school tickets to represent money.  They can start spending their tickets once the store is open.  If you don’t have the capability for this, you can always make it theoretical.  Students can do the same research that would be required with selling real plants and just make paper plants for the sake of the project.  They need to know if they are selling cut or potted.  What are the plant needs?  How should they be stored?  Which are most expensive to care for and least expensive?  You have a short timeline, so which grow the fastest?  It would be great to have a local nursery expert visit your class and they can ask him or her questions.
The best way for you to create multiple grades out of this assignment is to have students keep a log or journal.  Many articles on business successes tout journals as a helpful and even necessary tool.  Have students write what they learned and then provide a personal application.  You can even have them keep all their thoughts in a notebook specific to this project and take them up at the end, or even better, give them a folder to use as a portfolio!
That is all for now.  Ready to kick your classroom into high, real-life gear??  I’m so excited for you.  Don’t forget to share your experiences by commenting below.  If you do something different, or your students come up with an amazing idea, please pretty please share.  I would LOVE to hear about it.
All done and ready for the next step??  Read WEEK 2 and WEEK 3 right now!
Have an awesome week!

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