Calling all budding business owners! This week’s unit will inspire your child’s inner maker, builder, and doer as they explore the world of entrepreneurship. From developing a growth mindset (and a business budget) to bringing their wildest ideas and solutions to life, your child will develop their natural curiosity and creativity—while also working on a variety of academic skills. Click here to download our skills tracker before you start!
This unit takes the next step with a lot of finance topics that we introduced in our Finance Unit. We highly recommend doing that unit prior to this one!
Note: Occasionally we include project modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings) and upgrades (for children ready for more). We’ll mark those with the minus (-) or plus (+) symbols.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada (or listen to this read aloud)
- Be a Maker by Katey Howes (or listen to this read aloud)
- Once Upon a Company by Wendy Anderson Halperin (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- Little People, Big Dreams: Steve Jobs by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (or listen to this read aloud)
Optional chapter book:
- The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
- Frindle by Andrew Clements – While this book isn’t exactly about an entrepreneur, it does cleverly illustrate the power of ideas, marketing, and branding! (Plus, it’s just one of our favorite chapter books for elementary students!)
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- laminator + laminator sheets (optional, but recommended for repeating lessons)
- watercolor paper
- painter’s tape or masking tape (optional)
- watercolor paint, pastels, markers, or desired coloring materials
- paper clip
- brown paper bag
- 20 pieces of dried spaghetti (this is very expensive on Amazon, so we recommend getting it from a local grocery or dollar store)
- 1 large marshmallow (these are also cheaper at the grocery store)
- paper plates
- toilet paper and paper towel rolls
- a marble
- paint brushes
- small canvas (these are sometimes cheaper at local craft stores)
- ingredients for this recipe or this recipe
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
This week is all about entrepreneurship…but what is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is an individual who identifies a need in the world or marketplace and works to fulfill it, often assuming most of the risk (if the venture fails) or the reward (if it is successful). The term has historically been applied to an individual who starts a business. (source)
The one thing every entrepreneur has in common? They started with an idea. But where do ideas come from? And how can your child harness their own into a concrete potential business plan? Let’s start simply with the book What Do You Do With an Idea?
Activity 1: Before we work on any ideas of our own, let’s set the mood for a little creativity! Neuroscience research has found that certain types of music can actually boost “divergent” thinking, that is, thinking that involves “making unexpected combinations, recognizing links among remote associates, or transforming information into unexpected forms” (source). This type of thinking is essential for creativity. So what types of music can help? The study found that happy classical pieces had the strongest positive effect on divergent thinking, and “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi fit the bill perfectly.
Watch this video to learn more about the man behind this famous music. Next, listen to his Four Seasons concertos here. As you listen, encourage your child to get up and move in a way the music inspires them. (This post has some tips for motivating this movement activity.) You can leave the music playing while you work on your next activity!
Activity 2: What does your child’s imagination look like? Get those creative juices flowing with this simple craft.
Activity 3: Let’s play a game to work on our Phonics Rule of the week! Print this board game and use a pencil and a paper clip to use the spinner. (Note: The download has two pages. On the first page, we’ve provided ER, IR, and UR words to practice. The second page is blank for you to add your own words, if desired.) After reviewing the R-controlled vowel rule, have your child work their way around the game until they get to the finish!
Activity 4: Entrepreneurs often have to solve problems to help their businesses be successful. To get our problem-solving skills working, let’s end the day with a STEM challenge! To set up, give your child a brown paper bag filled with 20 pieces of dried spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, a pair of scissors, and 1 large marshmallow (or something of similar weight and size). Next, give them 10-15 minutes to build the tallest structure they can that can hold the marshmallow. (If you are working with a group, you could turn it into a competition challenge to see which group or child can build the tallest tower.) After the time is up, discuss what the hardest part of the challenge was. How did your child overcome this challenge or frustration? What would they do differently if they did the challenge again? (You can actually repeat the challenge, if desired!)
Does your child have a hard time with open-ended activities? Try using this Problem Solving Wheel to help their find solutions on their own. The first page has some suggested solutions your child can try, or, if there are other options you think you child will use, print the second page and write in your own potential problem solvers.
So you have an idea…now it’s time to bring it to life! People who create are called makers—and you can be virtually any kind of maker! Let’s dive more into the idea of making with today’s book, Be a Maker.
Activity 1: Our first activity today is called a Business Plan Brainstorm, and it will introduce the idea of brainstorming to your child and help them learn a few different methods of organizing their ideas. (This is useful for a variety of subjects, such as writing, as well as for coming up with a business idea!)
Before you begin, this article for educators can be helpful to read through so you know how to encourage your child. Take special note of the importance of teaching our children to avoid judging ideas while they are being generated. Our brainstorming session is a safe space to suggest even the wackiest, most impossible-sounding ideas!
We have designed three different types of printable brainstorming prompts to help your child keep track of their brainstorm. Work on them in order to start with big ideas and then narrow them down into something specific your child can work on for the rest of the week. (For the first page, unless your child is writing freely, you may want to scribe their ideas so their imagination isn’t slowed down by their handwriting ability.)
And remember, not everyone is a natural entrepreneur! If your child is having a hard time coming up with specific ideas, use a simple business idea like a lemonade stand to help guide their brainstorm and business plans throughout the week.
Activity 2: Now that you have a more specific idea for your business, it’s time to build a prototype! Use air-dry clay or recycled materials from around your home to create a model of your product, or begin gathering any supplies you need to bring your desired business to life.
Activity 3: Another important step in launching a business is creating a company logo. A logo is a symbol or design that represents your business and its products. (Some popular examples: the Target bullseye and the Nike swoosh. A wordmark, or ‘logotype’, is a logo made entirely of a word or words. It is usually the name of a product or organization. (Think of Barbie’s stylized name, the Coca-Cola wordmark, or the Google wordmark.)
Before we make our own, watch this video with more tips on how to create a great logo. Next, design your own! (If your child is having a hard time creating a logo for their business, they can also simply use their own name to make a stylized wordmark.)
You have an idea, you even have a product! But much more goes into a business than simply having great ideas. Today, we’ll look at some of the other important parts of running your own company, beginning with the book Once Upon A Company (or read it here on OpenLibrary). Be sure to check out the glossary at the back of the book to review some of the important roles you’ll find at most companies!
Activity 1: A big part of owning a company is keeping track of the money you make (and the money you spend!). In our Finance Unit, we learned a lot about earning and spending money. For today’s activity, let’s create a budget for your child’s business. Start with this printable, where your child can list all of the expenses they need to start their business. Next, work with your child to figure out the real world cost of what they need and add up the total expenses.
Use these totals to determine what the cost of each item you sell should be, and work through some hypothetical figures to figure out how many units you will need to sell to make a profit. (You can also use this printable to work out some ways your child can earn the money they would need to start their business!)
Activity 2: So now you have a product and a company…how do you get people to buy what you’re selling? For most companies, the answer is advertising. Learn more about the field of advertising here in this web article. After reading it, ask your child these questions (or whatever others naturally develop in the conversation):
- What is advertising?
- What are different types of advertising?
- Should there be rules (regulations) for what companies are allowed to say in an advertisement? For example, should you be allowed to lie in an advertisement? (This can also springboard conversations about learning how to examine commercials and other media our children are exposed to.)
- Do we believe a statement just because a company claims it?
- What should we ask ourselves when we see a commercial?
This blog post shares some of the most popular advertising campaigns from the last several years (your child might even recognize some of them!). Discuss what makes them memorable, or what about them makes you want to buy that company’s product.
Finally, let’s try some advertising of our own! Create your own advertisement for your company. Think about what makes your product special and who would be interested in using it.
(+) Is your child just bursting with ideas? Let them create a commercial for their product as well and record it.
Activity 3: Another way to find success as an entrepreneur is to learn from more experienced business owners. Do you know someone who owns their own business? Arrange for your child to interview them either in person or over a video chat call. (This can also be a great week to take a field trip to a local business and learn from a business owner in your community! Call ahead to see if the owner is able to arrange a tour and time to speak with your child.) Help your child to work out some questions to ask beforehand, but here are a few to get you started:
- What made you want to own your own business?
- How did you get your business started?
- What have been some of your biggest struggles as a business owner?
- How do you stay motivated?
One of the toughest lessons to learn when we own a business is that not everything we do will be successful. In today’s activities, we’ll be learning more about how to develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset means that you thrive on challenge, and don’t see failure as a way to describe yourself but as a springboard for growth and developing your abilities. Your intelligence and talents are all susceptible to growth. (source)
Today’s activities will all help our children learn how to bounce back even when things don’t go the way we planned. Use each activity as an opportunity to explore some of the big feelings that come with making mistakes and developing perseverance. We’ll begin with the book The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes.
Activity 1: Let’s practice trying new things, making mistakes, and learning from them with this STEM rollercoaster activity! All you’ll need are some paper plates, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, tape, and a marble. How big can your child make their rollercoaster? As you build, use moments of frustration or when things don’t work as planned to model curiosity and perseverance for your child.
Activity 2: Growth mindset word search.
Activity 3: We have learned about many artists throughout our units who have overcome adversity to pursue their work (including Frida Kahlo in our Level 2: Big Feelings Unit and Vincent Van Gogh in our Level 2: Flowers Unit and Level 1: Neighborhood Unit). Today, we’ll learn about an incredibly popular artists who developed a following through his celebration of “happy accidents,” Bob Ross. Watch this short video to learn more about the life of this famous popular painter.
Bob Ross turned his laid-back vibes and effortless, soothing painting style into a multimillion dollar business. Throughout his show, he encouraged his viewers to enjoy the process of creating art—without worrying about perfection. Want to try painting along with Bob Ross? This blog post shares a lot of useful tips for helping your child paint along while you watch this episode. (If your child finds the show soothing, it’s also available to stream on Netflix and many episodes are on YouTube!)
Bob Ross also illustrated a children’s book! If your child enjoyed learning more about him, you can listen to it here.
For our final day of our Entrepreneur Unit, we’ll be learning more about one of the most famous founders in history, Steve Jobs! Begin by reading the book Little People, Big Dreams: Steve Jobs. If you weren’t able to find the book, you can also watch this short children’s show about him.
Activity 1: Steve Jobs has inspired thousands of people to pursue an entrepreneurial dream—and to look at the world in a different way! Let’s take a little inspiration from him by using one of his popular quotes for copywork today. Before your child picks a quote, read through them and discuss the advice being given. Why would this be helpful to someone, particularly if they wanted to run their own business?
(+) Is your child ready for more? Try dictation! If this is a new idea, click here to learn about this Charlotte Mason method of teaching and reinforcing spelling and grammar.
Activity 2: Has learning about Steve Jobs inspired your child to want to work in tech? Let’s explore this idea with some imaginary play. Print these sheets for instructions, and then get ready to design your own smart phone app! And remember: An idea doesn’t have to be realistic to be good! Let your child get as silly as they want with their designs! (Note: While the previous activity was focused on handwriting, this activity is designed to foster creativity. To that end, if your child is not writing freely (or just would like extra help), you may want to scribe their answers so they can get all their ideas down on paper.)
Is your child struggling to choose an idea? Here are some ideas to inspire them:
- an app that uses your breath to diagnose illnesses
- an app where you enter your cravings and it suggests a snack recipe
- an app that helps you get dressed in the morning
- an app that always tracks where you’ve left your shoes!
Activity 3: It wouldn’t be right to learn about Steve Jobs without mixing in an apple activity! Choose between this apple muffin recipe or these apple pie parfaits—they’re both very simple, so your child can do many of the steps themselves.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Entrepreneur Unit! Is your child still interested in exploring their business idea? Keep going with it! If the product is something they can really make and sell, explore different options (like craft fairs or Etsy) where they can actually put what they’ve made to market. You never know where your budding business owner could end up!
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