Ethical Entrepreneurs
Hagemann Elementary School

Second grade businesses at Hagemann Elementary promote ethical values as a foundation for good character. The businesses are a hit for all stakeholders as it engages students and families. The businesses are child-centered that promote leadership and school wide community building. We even take a field trip to visit a local business to further their understanding of the business concepts. This program nurtures and empowers young people to consider entrepreneurship and teaches them to be producers and consumers in the marketplace. The students give back to the community by donating a part of their profit to a non-profit agency. The children are taught they have a voice in the decision making process of what they will produce, the name of the business, how they will spend their profit, and what items they want to purchase with their fake money. The students work cooperatively making the product, and writing and making a commercial for the entire student body to view before the day of the sale during this six week hands-on experience.

  • Students will know that running a business will allow opportunities to make ethical decisions, where people can use character knowledge to help guide decisions.
  • Students will learn that running a successful business takes responsibility, cooperation, integrity and hard work.
  • Students will know that producers and consumers depend on each other for goods and services.
  • Students will know that people have different ways to earn money to pay for goods and services.
  • Students will know how some raw materials become. products.
  • Students will know that trade can help meet needs.
  • Students will learn to differentiate between wants and needs.
The actual material list depends on what the students vote to produce for their business. We ask parents to help donate the materials needed to make the products. We also take out a "loan" from a fellow classroom teacher to help pay for the materials. After we make a profit, we pay back the loan. For example, one class voted to make bookmarks to sell, so we needed paper, cardstock, stickers, ribbon, hole punch, etc.
An economic unit in social studies is chosen from our social studies textbook. A loan is discussed and created all students sign the document, and three adults that know them well must agree to sign the loan after they ask around to find out if the class getting the loan shows good character and if they show integrity to be able to pay the loan back.

Week One and Two- Business Background Knowledge
Opening Discussion: Ask students if they remember shopping at the second grade business last year. Remind them about the products that were sold by second graders last year. Discuss what they are excited about learning during this unit. Ask them if they think they might have to use knowledge that they have learned during other character lessons to help guide decisions they will have to make as they run their business. As you begin the unit, give students business journals to write key vocabulary words, business reflections and more as you cover them during this unit.

Once the groundwork is laid, we begin discussions of key terms that will be covered in the unit, People in the Marketplace, from our Harcourt-Social Studies textbook. Some terms taught are: goods and services, jobs, income, producers and consumers, loan, scarcity, trade, factory, and much more. We used our textbook and a packet we purchased from the website Teachers Pay Teachers, to enhance the lesson.

After the students learn about the business topics in the textbook, they need to decide on a product they’d like to produce and sell. Send home an idea sheet for the students to brainstorm product ideas at home with their families. Discuss the importance of choosing a product that you are able to make with everyone's help and with little cost so that you can make a profit. Remember, you will need to make at least 400-600 of the item that you choose, depending on the size of your school. Each student gets to offer at least one idea the next day in class so that every student has a voice. Then, have a class vote and the majority wins.

Next, send a note home explaining the business to the parents and that donations of materials and time are appreciated to help the class have a successful business. Before making the product, draw a simple picture of a person on the board. Have them label and explain all of the character traits they might think a successful ethical entrepreneur displays. They can copy their ideas into their business journals.

Week Three and Four - Develop Product
First, discuss how you will need to take out a loan from a bank (another teacher in the building) so that you can purchase more materials for your product. Then, fill out a loan application with your students. Explain the entire form with extra emphasis on the references section. Explain how this directly relates to their character. Make sure to include teachers and the principal as references for your class. Our principal made sure to come in and give the class a lesson on why it is important to show integrity and responsibility because he wants to give a good reference for us when the bank calls to check with him. The bank will need to know that we are responsible enough to pay back the loan. The principle can help the students think of ways that they demonstrate responsibility at school and at home.

Give each student a timesheet log. This will allow students to practice their math skills while working on this project. They will have to log their start and end time when they work. They will get paid in classroom dollars at the end of each week and save them in an envelope that they have decorated to be their wallets. They will get to spend the money when the   business is over. We are able to discuss how saving money takes patience because we have to be peaceful while we wait to spend it.

Next, research on the internet or from local resources how to make your product. Learn how to make it and then have a practice day. Reflect on what they can do better/differently to make it better or faster, etc. Make sure that everyone is included in the process. Some classes have students take turns being the manager. The manager can walk around and supervise. The other students know to ask the manager for help or advice when needed. The manager learns that it takes team work, patience and leadership skills to be successful. We also welcome any parent volunteers to help with production.

The students spend time learning from the text and creating product to sell to other students in the school, as well as parents, grandparents and other community members. We work on this for about six weeks.

Week Five - Advertising
Bring students into the computer lab to make business cards. Save a template so they can easily edit and print them to give to other students and family members. Students can also create a poster ad using Microsoft Word. Discuss the importance of advertising and how they have to be truthful about the products that they are selling. They can hang their advertisements around the school.

Next, the students brainstorm ideas for a business commercial. You can do a whole class commercial or break them into groups to create a few commercials for the products. We discuss how it takes cooperation to develop a great commercial. We talk about how they can show good character while they work on their commercials. The teacher can video record the final commercial (edit if possible) and let the school view the commercials the week of the sale.

Week Six - Sale Week!
The date for the sale should be set at least 3 weeks in advance so that you can make sure to send out the information to the school and families in plenty of time. The rest of the school needs reminders to bring in a quarter for each class that is selling a product. Before the sale, have each student design a business hat (out of construction paper) so that they have some type of uniform for the sale.

The school community and families are invited to come in to shop. Each group should be welcomed with a respectful hello and are thanked for shopping by the group before they leave. The students have to make change all day so it really enhances this skill necessary to learn in second grade. Students discuss the importance of customer service for a successful business. We stop in between customers to reflect and discuss all of the character and ethics lessons that come up naturally while running a business. Here are some topics that typically come up for discussion - What do we do if some customers don't have enough money to pay for the product? What should we do if a customer comes back with a broken product? What should we do if we realize that we gave someone too little change? Should we be "pushy" while selling? What do we do if someone takes a product without paying? This discussion is so important to have successful character integration into this unit.

The money that is earned is counted and the students use their voice in deciding how to spend their profit. Make a list of ideas of how they think a business with good character would do with their profit. You will be amazed at their ideas! Most classes decide to give more than half of their profit to local charities or to help others in some way. It is AMAZING!!!!! See this story for an example of what happened with our profit one year. Finally, the students can discuss how they would like to spend their money. Let them have a voice to help develop a list of ways they can spend their classroom money. They will come up with ideas that you would never imagine. They want to "pay" to eat lunch with the teacher, move their desk for the day, an extra minute on a timed math test, etc. It is so much fun! Their voice is extremely important.

Field trip to a local business - take your students to a local business where they can see all of the business ethics and ideas in action. We go to Cold Stone Creamery and they do a wonderful job explaining the business terms to second graders. Encourage discussion of situations where the business had to use character knowledge to help make ethical business decisions.
Hands-on experience:
  • Time card recorded correctly
  • Journal written and illustrated
  • A written test

Exit slips can be used to give a situation where there is some ethical dilemma and the students have to determine how they would handle the situation as an ethical entrepreneur.

A survey is sent home to parents in the end to use their voice in giving us feedback on if they feel this project is beneficial to our students or if there are any changes that we should do to make the program better.