Elementary School Entrepreneurs

Main Article Content

Annie McMahon Whitlock


In this paper, I describe the implementation of a project-based economics unit in a fifth-grade classroom in Michigan, titled One Hen. One Hen is a curricular unit designed to teach students about social entrepreneurship as a way for students to learn economic concepts while developing their own civic efficacy by engaging in a project where they design and run their own social business. These findings are part of a larger case study that examines one fifth-grade class’s experience with One Hen and what these students learned about the economic concepts of loans and entrepreneurship. Through the authentic experiences of project-based learning, the fifth-grade students developed a more sophisticated understanding of loans and the role of microfinance in creating a social business.

Article Details



Ayers, C. A. (2016). Developing preservice and inservice teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge in economics. Social Studies Research and Practice, 11(1), 73–92.

Billig, S. H. (2010). Why service learning is such a good idea. Grand Valley State University Colleagues, 5(1), 9–11.

Broome, J. P., & Preston-Grimes, P. (2011). Open for business: Learning economics through social interaction in a student-operated store. Journal of Social Studies Research, 35(1), 35–59.

Brophy, J., & Alleman, J. (2006). Children’s thinking about cultural universals. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Brophy, J., Alleman, J., & Halvorsen, A. (2012). Powerful social studies for elementary students (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Day, S. H. (2015). How elementary teachers use classroom mini-economies when guided by the C3 Framework. (Doctoral dissertation). North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Finkel, E. (2010). A bull market for financial literacy. Retrieved from www.districtadministration.com

Katz, L., & Chard, S. C. (Eds.). (2000). Engaging children’s minds: The project approach. Stamford, CT: Ablex Publishing.

Kourilsky, M. (1977). The Kinder-Economy: A case study of kindergarten pupils’ acquisition of economic concepts. Elementary School Journal, 77(3), 182–191.

Kourilsky, M., & Ballard-Campbell, M. (1984). Mini-Society: An individualized social studies program for children of low, middle, and high ability. Social Studies, 75(5), 224–228.

Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2010). 7 essentials for project-based learning. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 34–37.

Meszaros, B., & Evans, S. (2010). It’s never too early: Why economics education in the elementary classroom. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 22(3), 4–7.

Michigan Department of Education. (2007). Grade level content expectations: Social studies. Lansing, MI: Author. Retrieved from http://michigan.gov/mde

Miller, S. L., & VanFossen, P. J. (1994). Assessing expertise in economic problem solving: A model. Theory and Research in Social Education, 22(3), 380–412.

Miller, S. L., & VanFossen, P. J. (2008). Recent research on the teaching and learning of pre-collegiate economics. In L. S. Levstik & C. A. Tyson (Eds.). Handbook of research in social studies education (pp. 284–306). New York: Routledge.

National Center for Educational Statistics. (2011). School search. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov

National Council for Social Studies. (2010). National curriculum standards for social studies: A framework for teaching, learning, and assessment. Silver Spring, MD: Author.

National Council on Economics Education. (2010). Voluntary national content standards in economics (2nd ed.). New York: Author.

Schug, M., & Lopus, J. (2008). Economic and financial education for the 21st century. Social Education, 72(7), 359–362.

Smith-Millway, K. (2008). One hen: How one small loan made a big difference. Toronto, Canada: Kids Can Press. Thomas, J. W. (2000). A review of research on project-based learning. San Rafael, CA: Autodesk Foundation.

VanSledright, B. A. (2002) Fifth graders investigating history in the classroom: Results from a researcher-practitioner design experiment. Elementary School Journal, 103(2), 131–160.

Yunus, M. (2010). Building social business: The new kind of capitalism that serves humanity’s most pressing needs. New York: Public Affairs.