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The 2/3 Finds Power in Math

By Rachel Elin-Saintine

IMG_2026 (1)Today, the 2/3 went around the classroom to buy items from our classroom’s “school store.” Different school supplies in the class had a price tag on them, and each student had a certain amount of money to spend.  Second and third graders choose what they wanted to buy, or if they wanted to spend all their money, or save some for later.  They also chose the quantity they could afford of each item, and how much it cost altogether.  The one rule was that you couldn’t purchase more than you started with because you wouldn’t have enough money to pay for it.

While second graders were busy counting up their totals, third graders also had to figure out how much change they would get back from the cashier.  As the kids were milling about the classroom, I heard, “ohhhh! I can get a package of legos!” Or, “I still have enough…maybe I’ll get two tins of tinkering putty instead of just one!” After shopping around the class for the most desirable items for sale, we had a conversation about how using the money changed their mindset as they shopped around.  Some students spoke up and said, “it’s like when we had the money we felt excited and felt like it was a challenge.”  Another said, “I felt more grown up because I could make my own decisions about what I wanted to buy with it.” Others said, “it’s weird — I heard more teasing about who had more money.”  And also, “When people went to the bathroom, I saw people take their money, and then when they came back they didn’t know what happened to it.”

IMG_2024So,  we dove a little bit deeper into this idea about how the amount of money you have could be related to how much power you feel you hold. The 3rd graders (intentionally) had larger priced items to buy, and when they initially heard that their items were more expensive, there was a collective, “owww man!”.  We continued the conversation about what it felt like to know that you couldn’t buy as many items as someone else.  The majority of 3rd graders felt that it was unfair, even though they acknowledged that it was only play money.  The 2nd and 3rd graders went back and forth about how they felt knowing they could spend more, or less, and then we heard the connection – “it’s like the extra money made us feel more powerful, even though we weren’t really buying anything.”   I look forward to witnessing more “ah-ha” moments as connections are made to our social studies theme of power in the most unlikely of places.


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