Market Day: We learn not for school but for LIFE

Published On: May 27th, 2022 | Categories: Food for Thought |


We learn not for school but for LIFE.

A tweet caught my eye this morning.

The tweet above originated from Stefanos Tsitsipas, a professional tennis player from Greece. It was later retweeted by Ian Simmons, a leader in independent school and higher education consulting. Simmons’ simple acknowledgment of “even tennis pros know the reality” was a real backhand smash (bear with me here if I used the term wrong, I’m a soccer coach). I immediately thought of our school motto; we learn not for school but for LIFE. However, the interesting connection was that I happened to be sitting in the library surrounded by the second grade Market Day activity when I read the full tweet.

Financial Literacy

Second grade Market Day is a terrific example of learning for life and, in a way, answers Tsitsipas question. This Project Based Learning (PBL) activity centers around a mini economy called Market Day. Students studied the dynamics of an economy and then applied their understanding in the role of an entrepreneur and producer. The students learned about entrepreneurs and their products. During math class, students explored the difference between durable and non-durable goods and the types of resources it takes to make a product, including natural, capital, and human resources.

Market Day teaches basic financial literacy (economics is also covered at a deeper level in middle school here) with a healthy dose of entrepreneurship. In addition, these 8-year olds have to hone their sales pitches and get comfortable with communicating with children and adults of all ages.


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After the first day of sales, students counted the number of tickets they had collected and calculated the dollar amount they raised. The students had to count their remaining inventory and consider the supply and demand for the products they were selling to decide whether to keep their prices the same for the second day of selling or lower the prices to raise as much money as possible could. Each student had to use the economics vocabulary learned in class to explain his or her decision before changing the price. With the participation of the entire Powhatan School community, most of the students sold out of their products, and they raised $1,665.58 for the Frederick County/Winchester City Bright Futures Program.

But while we are at it, let’s take a look at the other areas highlighted in Tsitsipas’ original tweet below.

~Coach Hatfield


How To Build Things

I love that he added this aspect. We are a school that believes that students learn best by ‘doing.’ While the ability for children to create and build is innate, it is also a skill to be fostered through challenging activities and engaging projects. The Makerspace is the perfect headquarters for this type of engaging learning on our campus. One example is a simple Geometry activity revolving around the study of ratios turned into a challenging Makerspace bridge building design challenge:


Cooking & Survival Skills

The Survival Trip consistently is referred to by students as one of the most popular field trips in the whole school. This cross-curricular experiential learning activity is a sixth grade field trip based on the novel “Hatchet” by author Gary Paulsen. After reading and discussing “Hatchet” in class, Mr. Legge recreates the novel in a two-day overnight trip that teaches students the skills needed to survive in the wilderness:


Relationship Values

The Buddy Program strengthens the school community and provides opportunities for students to connect in meaningful ways. The Buddy program pairs students at different grade levels together for learning activities and plenty of fun. It provides big buddies with leadership opportunities and teaches patience. Little buddies gain confidence and feel a strong sense of community, a sense of place and a deep sense of belonging. Research clearly shows that strong relationships with teachers and peers can dramatically enhance students’ level of motivation and academic success. Building relationships with new children each year contributes to the social and emotional well-being of each member of our Powhatan community, and we feel strongly that this is an essential part of all children’s education:


Sustainability and the Environment

At Powhatan School, we use an approach called Nature Enhanced Approach to Learning (NEAL). NEAL is a lens through which we can teach any or all components of our curriculum. We use it to bring our students outside into the natural world and to bring the natural world indoors to our students. These interactive activities across grade levels promote conservation and sustainability in a real-world setting. The Crocker Conservancy adds a whole new dimension to the scope of the NEAL program, allowing for the 47 acres directly behind the school to become an outdoor laboratory for hands-on experiential learning. Next week, our third graders will complete their study of wetlands, culminating in a hands-on learning experience on the Crocker Conservancy:


Mental Health

We use a Social & Emotional Learning program called Responsive Classroom at all grade levels in the school. The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching is comprised of a set of well-designed practices intended to create safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms and school communities. The emphasis is on helping students develop their academic, social, and emotional skills in a learning environment that is developmentally responsive to their strengths and needs. Small classes allow for students to create stronger relationships, experience more positive behavior, have stronger social skills, and be more academically engaged, have stronger social skills, and experience more positive behavior:


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