Over the course of the past month, Judy and I have been busy working with the students to create a “Snow Cone Shop.” Based upon the children’s love of snow and their interest in buying and selling things from one another, we decided to introduce some of the basic concepts of stores, businesses, and economics. Using real snow and natural juices to flavor it, we emulated a store and the roles that people play as employee and customer. The children were so excited about this meeting that they couldn’t wait to start doing it for choice time. Immediately, the children jumped in to character as “scooper” and “customer”, using the socially- appropriate behaviors that we had discussed and modeled during meeting. These skills including paying the employee, making eye contact with your customers, using manners, and asking customers questions about how many scoops and what flavors of juice they would like.
The snow cone shop has been a natural way to incorporate math into a real life situation. For every snow cone children bought, they were allowed to have three squeezes of juice. (We used eyedroppers, which is a natural way to have children use the pinching grasp that is used in writing.) With three flavors to choose from, many children decided to combine flavors. In making the request, “I would like two squeezes of orange and one of blueberry”, the children are demonstrating their ability to do addition in their head (two orange plus one blueberry equals three squeezes). Not only have they been adding, the students have also been counting how much money we have been making. On the first day, when teachers had everything set up from the start, we made $33. On Day 2, we made $37. The third day brought $7, but also required the students to plan and set up the “Shop” by themselves, requiring critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. And on the fourth day, we made $10, which was an improvement on the previous day under student “management”. On Day Four, we also introduced the concept of “expenses”, which meant that we earned $13, but had $3 in expenses- $2 on cups and $1 on spoons.
Not only does the “Snow Cone Shop” incorporate important literacy and math skills, it also reinforces socially appropriate behaviors such as waiting in line, making eye contact, using teamwork, and communicating with classmates. This choice has also taught children important aspects of being an employee, like cleaning up spills and collecting dirty dishes to wash. With regards to problem solving, we were frequently having problems with the counter falling down, spilling our juice and, once, even breaking one of our glass jars. When I asked if anyone had any ideas about how to prevent this from happening in the future, a child responded with, “It needs stabilizers”, before proceeding to build a wall around the existing counter so that the “stabilizer” would be knocked over before the counter fell if it was bumped!
Reflection: This fun meeting and choice time activity has been a favorite for days. It has been an engaging and meaningful way to incorporate some of the core content areas of literacy, math, and social studies into our every day activities. Every child seems to be finding ownership in the shop and it has been a choice that every child has found excitement in. When a child returned from missing a few days of school and never having seen the “Snow Cone Shop”, his friend said to him, “You should try it… it is really fun!”
My name is Rachel Foley and I live in Warren with my husband, Luke, our 3 year old daughter, Nora, our 1 year old son, Tobin, and a black lab named Dozer. We have been in the Valley for the past 7 years and absolutely love the great community and tremendous beauty of this area. Prior to taking the position at Fayston, I was a teacher and assistant director at Spring Hill School in Waitsfield. I have also worked with children of all ages in numerous other capacities including summer camps, environmental education centers, and 1.5 years in the deserts of Utah, where I worked with at-risk teens in a wilderness therapy company. I am originally from Pittsburgh, but feel like I have really found my place here in the Mad River Valley.