The Business of Teaching Literature

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My co-teacher and I have a business theme that is the backbone to our 4th grade curriculum. One piece of our academic plan is literature with a business focus. There are many book recommendations (see list below) that portray a main character who gets things going. The character might run a business, be the leader of a project, or become responsible for something significant.

This type of storyline promotes creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. Many of these books teach students about the basics of business (profit, loss, partnership, etc.). While there is almost always a supportive adult in the story, I like the fact that these books depict children as problem-solvers without a parent or adult handing them the easy solution. 

Chapter Books
Non-Fiction
  • The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
  • Everyone Wears His Name: A Biography of Levi Strauss by Sondra Henry
  • Model T: How Henry Ford Built a Legend by David Weitzman
  • Chocolate by Hershey: A Story About Milton S. Hershey by Betty Burford
  • Kidpreneurs, Young Entrepeneurs with Big Ideas by Adam Toren and Matthew Toren
  • Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig
Classroom Ideas
  • Have students write a personal business plan for a company they could start at school. After reading The Lemonade War, my students wrote a business plan for a lemonade stand that we ran during student recess. We used the best ideas from all of the students business plans to create a master plan for the class that we took to our principal. 
  • Do the math. In books like Lunch Money by Clements and The Bread Winner by Whitmore, students can use details in the book to calculate business costs and profits. It is fun to project how much money the characters could potentially earn in a year, two years, or five years.
  • Create a business using advance orders. Film and edit a commercial to share with the school if that technology is available to you. As orders arrive, students use spreadsheets to track and sort orders by class. You can create graphs that show which grades buy the most of a product. This year, my group is selling Mason Jar Cookie Mixes. Not only did we have to record the orders, the students had a ton of recipe math to complete. Our original recipes for the mix made 2 jars. We had to calculate ingredient amounts for 267 jars of cookies mix! I even had the students track down the stores with the best prices (FYI-- Walmart for jars, white chocolate chips, and M&Ms, Costco for the other ingredients in our area).
Books with business provide such rich learning opportunities for students. It makes it so easy to incorporate many layers of skills. What are your best novel studies that give you more bang for your buck?

Happy Reading!

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