First-graders Turn Business Lesson into Donations

Lessons in economics can lead to generosity, you know.

The students at Sanders Corner Elementary School in Ashburn can attest to that. Earlier in the school year, the Sanders Corner’s first-grade teachers Jackie Bagwell, Cathy Dodge, Lauren Jakubovic and Lori Lyons told their students about Toys for Tots, an organization that collects toys for children who might not wouldn’t otherwise receive Christmas gifts.

The students asked: Well, why not just give them money to buy gifts?

Teachers responded: Great, but where would you get the money?

Students came up with an idea to make and sell their own products, and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to Toys for Tots. Each class selected a different good to produce, including candleholders, necklaces, bracelets and molding clay, or homemade Play-Doh.

The first-graders created the items during class, set the prices and came up with a marketing scheme. They created a commercial that was aired on the Sanders Corner Morning News Show to publicize what they dubbed the First Grade Market.

For a full week, children and parents manned tables outside the first-grade classrooms to sell their goods during morning arrival time. The students were challenged to tweak their business model as they went to account for heavily demanded products, such as the glitter molding clay and bracelets made with the school’s colors, turquoise and beads.

“The whole school was very supportive and provided feedback to the students regarding their publicity, products, and sales efforts,” Sanders Corner Principal Mike Jacques wrote in an email about the First Grade Market. “In the end, $456 was raised for Toys for Tots.”

Last week, the students presented a check in that amount to Frank Holtz and Rita Sartori with the Loudoun County Toys for Tots chapter.

Jacques said the First Grade Market ended up being an opportunity to not only teach students the basics of running a business but also about helping their neighbors.

Contact Danielle Nadler at

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