Kindergarteners and pizza

Ann Shaw

Wilshire park teacher wins $1,500 for economics lesson plan

A Wilshire Park Elementary School reading teacher is winning a $1,500 award for her novel approach to teaching kindergarteners about economics, using fairy tales and pizza.

Ann Shaw will receive the 3M Innovative Economic Educator Award at EconFest, an annual event put on by the Minnesota Council on Economic Education, at Thrivent Financial in Minneapolis Oct. 23.

Shaw will be honored for her lesson plan, which uses the story "The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza)," a version of the classic fairy tale updated by Philemon Sturges, in which the eponymous Little Red Hen teaches her layabout animal friends a lesson about the value of hard work.

The lesson plan, Shaw says, was the final project for a class she took at the University of Minnesota called "Using Children's Literature to teach Economics and Personal Finance," and is intended to teach kids just entering school the very basic tenets of economics.

Shaw, who has taught Kindergarten to third grade reading for 18 years and was a Kindergarten teacher for 15 years prior to that, says she came up with the plan after looking up what kindergartener's social studies standards were when it comes to economics.

"After finding out that one of those standards has kindergarteners identifying the economic terms 'goods' and 'services,' I then searched for a children's literature book that exemplified those terms and could be read aloud to the students," Shaw said.

"The fact that it was about making pizza was just a fun, familiar way to do this," Shaw added.

After the story is read to them, the lesson plans has students play two games involving pretend pizzas to reinforce the concepts.

Essentially, the pizza and its ingredients, things the kids can touch and hold, are an example of "goods," while making the pizza and doing the dishes after dinner, are an example of "services."

"The intent was to show that any teacher could use this literature to teach these economic principles," Shaw said.

Shaw won first place in the elementary school division of the award; there is also a secondary division. The Minnesota Council on Economic Education is a non-profit housed at the U of M and the 3M Innovative Economic Educator Award dates back to 1975.

Shaw, who lives with her husband in St. Anthony, has a daughter completing her graduate school studies overseas in Istanbul, Turkey.

Said Shaw, "Perhaps I'll use the award money to go and visit her."

--Mike Munzenrider


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