Getting Down to Business in Kindergarten

A highlight of the kindergarten experience at University School of Milwaukee is the annual economics unit, in which students create a business. In previous years, the businesses have ranged from an outdoor arcade to a pizza restaurant, candy shop, and an ice cream factory. This year’s businesses were just as creative: a Fro-Zone restaurant, a waffle shop, a musical theatre production of “The Little Red Hen,” and a dance performance from Rockin’ Wildcats (to be held on Monday, June 6).

Prior to developing their business, students research existing businesses to generate ideas. They also learn about key economic terms, including needs, wants, goods, services, saving, and spending. Each class creates a list of potential businesses, and then the kindergarten teachers—Andrea Burlew ’93, Stephanie Peterson, Jess Roberts ’06, and Michelle Troskey, along with assistant teachers Prudy Canfield, Jessica Iverson, Patti Keller, and Cynthia Stott—coordinate student votes in their classrooms on which ones to pursue.

The businesses take multiple weeks to develop. Students create a name and logo, choose which signs are needed to display in their business, and decide how to advertise their products. Lists of products are brainstormed and narrowed down in order to start creating the products to be sold. Production begins in each classroom so there is enough inventory. Students also decide if the class will be wearing uniforms and, if so, what the uniforms should look like.

When the businesses are ready to launch, the students invite other classes, faculty and staff, and families to come and enjoy the fruits of their labor. “The students relish the opportunity to create their own businesses and share what they learned with the USM community,” said Burlew.

A hand-written sign for the kindergarten production of %22The Little Red Hen%22
Kindergarten students perform %22The Little Red Hen%22 in costume
Kindergarten students operate a %22Fro-Zone%22 restaurant from their classroom
Kindergarten students operate a waffle shop from their classroom
Kindergarten students operate a waffle shop from their classroom
Kindergarten students operate a %22Fro-Zone%22 restaurant from their classroom
Kindergarten students operate a waffle shop from their classroom
Kindergarten students perform %22The Little Red Hen%22 in costume
A job application filled out by a kindergarten student