Over the past seven years, Snack Attack has become one of Fernway School’s most anticipated student events. On the surface, it looks like a basic lesson in economics: second grade students make their own snack mix, take orders and payment from students school-wide and then fulfill those on Snack Attack day.
But the learning that culminates with Snack Attack goes much deeper, says second grade teacher Matt Zucca. “This comes out of our IB unit on how we organize ourselves,” he explains. “We have a two-fold goal: teach the students about basic economics, good and services, and wants versus needs, but then we take it further and ask them what their responsibility is with their economic choices. They begin to understand the idea of doing good with money and making an impact with money.”
Each of the school’s second grade classes, taught by Jamie Harden, Andree Hassell and Mr. Zucca, begins the unit by reading the book Beatrice’s Goat, the true story of nine-year-old Beatrice, who lives in a remote Ugandan village. Her family receives a goat from the nonprofit Heifer International and, within months, is able to sell the goat’s milk and save enough money to afford a luxury for young Beatrice: her education. (Learn more about Beatrice online.)
Every year, the book successfully inspires students to host a sale and raise money for a cause. Of course, hosting a sale isn’t as easy as asking a grownup to bake cookies or buy snacks to sell.
Instead, the teachers pitch in to give the students a loan to buy supplies for a designated snack. Teachers buy the supplies, then students advertise the Snack Attack sale through flyers and announcements. A few days later, they take orders and then on Snack Attack day, the second graders form an assembly line---though first, they get a lesson about food safety through an inspection by School Nurse Louise Haffke---and fulfill order after order.
Mrs. Harden, who is new to teaching second grade this year, says she’s very fond of this unit of inquiry. “It was wonderful to see the students work collectively to help someone else. I particularly loved the economics concepts that were woven throughout,” she says.
This year, sales from Snack Attack totaled $586 with a total profit of $310. Mr. Zucca said that the class decided to donate $150 to Heifer International and another $160 to The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md. The Inn provides free lodging, meals and educational programming to children participating in clinical trials at the NIH. Over the past five years, the Inn has become a dear place for one of their classmates, Desi Borstein. Desi has an undiagnosed medical condition that prompts 2-3 annual visits to the Inn. “It means a lot to me that people in my school are raising money for the Inn because the Inn is where I go to get lots and lots of help,” Desi says.
“The desire the kids have to help out and make a change is very real,” Mr. Zucca says. “The common theme of taking action is across the board in IB. We always say, now what, so what and then we do something about it.”