I could write lots and lots about this day (I am very proud that we started it from scratch), but my friend Mrs. Bunyi did a better job than I could ever do on her blog. Read more about my Reality Day at: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2011/05/host-reality-fair.
1. Reality Day allows students to research careers they are interested in beforehand and live out their dreams on career day. We research careers and the education and experience necessary to attain these jobs, median salary, similar careers, etc. beforehand during classroom guidance lessons. Students in 5th grade get to pick their career or job and I assign 6th grade students their careers. Last year I assigned 6th grade their jobs out of sheer time necessity, but I discovered that I enjoyed doing this because it allowed me to assign them jobs they had never heard of or considered. For example, I assigned several students the job of actuary. When those students got their actuary jobs they pouted, but when they saw how much money they made they wanted to know as much as they could about how to become one.
2. Students get a yearly salary based on the median salary of their selected career. They then get to spend their money at the various stations I have set up: housing, car, child care, education, hair care, crystal ball, etc.
3. Students are assigned a different number of children. I assign the students the children, which can range from 0-3 and we assume all children are young enough that they require day care.
4. Reality Day lasts for half a day. You need at least an hour and a half minimum for the students to complete the event. This is an event you can do in elementary through high school age.
5. Parent and local volunteers really help make this day a success. I really love using Volunteer Spot to help me keep my volunteers organized. Volunteer Spot sends out reminders for you and allows parents to sign up for whatever they are interested in- from helping set up to bringing in snacks and water I can tell parents what I need help with and they choose how they want to help. This event is another great day to develop PR. We have about twenty local businesses attend this day and what a great way to include your community and spread the word about your program.
Here are a few updates that I have made since Mrs. Bunyi blogged about the event.
1. I added pet care. Students are always begging for pets so I let them choose a pet. Although a pet is not necessary, if students choose to get one they can't get rid of it.
2. I allowed some students to get roommates. The students that showed they could make good financial decisions and yet still went bankrupt were allowed to pair up as roommates and cut their bills in half.
3. Next year I will am considering adding in spouses. In the years past I have told students they need to imagine they are the head of the household, thus have to pay for everything. However, I have many many many students beg for an imaginary spouse so I am considering adding on a spouse. To do this I would simply add their spouse to the total income at the top of their log sheet. I would assign their spouses job and salary- my kids love to debate so I have to set firm limits with them.
4. We also added a household goods station- for the students who wanted to spend extra cash buying a big screen tv.
WHAT THE STUDENTS ARE SAYING
"I liked when i was talking to the people behind the booths there because they were very kind and helpful and i like how i got to see all the things i would be doing in reality... I also like how we got all the goodies :)"
"My favorite part was how I could see that my parents worked hard and I would realize I should thank them more."
"(I liked) Learning how to use money wisely."
"I liked learning what life would be like when I grew up, it was really fun and a good learning experience.
"I learned to never gamble because i was doing good and about finished with the activities (in my $3,000) until i reached the crystal ball."
"That the real world is really mean, and I probably shouldn't, own a farm and have 2 kids."
"I learned how to budget myself, how easy it is to go bankrupt, and in the future, to make my husband pay for himself and the kids."
"I learned that the cheapest things aren't always the worst."
"I learned that when I ask my mom for something everyday, she might run out of money. I know now to be more cautious with my money."
"That life is hard!!! Money can be scarce!"
"That being an adult IS NOT EASY AT ALL!!! Its a lot of money to be spending!"
"THAT BEING AN ADULT IS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS!"
What they loved, hated and learned:
My favorite part about Reality Fair?
-"choosing how to play out my life"
Least favorite part?
-"The part where I went bankrupt"
What did you learn?
-"Couponing is the best"
-"That life is expensive"
-"Budgets are hard to keep up with"
- "I learned parents do lots of hard work"-'that you need to know the plan you have and make it good"
-" I don't want to be a grown up"
- "money goes a lot farther if you spend it wisely"
- "go for the cheap stuff "
So...what do you do for Career Day??