Clairbourn School – Third Grade Market Day: Economy Studies

The third-graders at Clairbourn have been learning about Economic Systems and Economic Reasoning. Through their studies, they are gaining an understanding of terms like “capital resources” and “opportunity cost,” and through classroom activities, they are experiencing first-hand how an economy works.

The third grade classrooms are set up to function according to an economic model. Students apply for class jobs, secure letters of recommendation from previous teachers, and receive a weekly salary. Students cash their checks at the classroom bank and receive classroom currency in exchange. They use this currency to pay classroom taxes and occasional fines, and learn how to spend wisely and save towards a goal. In 3A, third graders use Banana Bucks to shop for goodies at a classroom store. In 3B, they use Cougar Cash to purchase classroom privileges, like eating microwave popcorn at their desk or using the teacher’s chair for the day.

In addition to the classroom economy activities, third graders produced and sold products at a Market Day event held on September 29. Working alone or in small groups of two and three, they drew up project plans, worked on an identity for their product, and listed and sourced all the supplies they would need for the production phase. Products ranged from bookmarks, trail mix, paper robots, and bracelets, to sock puppets—and the list goes on! They also wrote slogans and advertisements for their products. For example, “Buy the spiciest trail mix in the world! We’re only selling it to real men and women.”

Market Day was a success! Third graders sold their products to a room packed with excited parents and other third grade students. The selling and buying frenzy was happening in full-force. Students came prepared to respond to the market conditions as demand for their product increased and supplies became low. One student reported, “I liked selling my products, and I kept having to raise my price and then I was sold out!” Another student remarked, “It was fun making the products. I made paper robots and your could even customize them.”

After Market Day, students counted their profits and calculated a 10% tax, which they paid to Ms. Hawks and Mrs. Maltbie. Then, they split the profits evenly among their group members, saving their Banana Bucks and Cougar Cash for future purchases in the classroom.

Afterwards, students looked closely at their spending habits by asking themselves, “What did I buy?,” “Why did I buy it?,” “What was the opportunity cost?,” and most importantly, “Was this purchase a good decision?”

Students each had their own approach at Market Day as shoppers, with some trying out targeted spending and others testing out a more conservative saver approach. One student reported, “I liked shopping at Market Day,” while another said, “I didn’t really buy anything. I’m saving my money for classroom privileges. Or if I get any fines, I’ll need it.”

Clairbourn School, 8400 Huntington Drive, San Gabriel, (626) 286-3108 or visit




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