What happens when elementary school students visit the reality store

K-5 students also take “career walks,” an extension of the school career fair.
By: | April 15, 2020
Teachers in Kentucky Erlanger/Elsmere School District introduce elementary school students to career-focused decisions such as paying for housing and transportation.Teachers in Kentucky Erlanger/Elsmere School District introduce elementary school students to career-focused decisions such as paying for housing and transportation.

In career awareness lessons at A.J. Lindeman Elementary in Kentucky, fifth graders get the chance to start acting like adults.

Part of the Erlanger/Elsmere School District, the school matches students’ personal learning styles and interests with different careers.

Then the students visit the “reality store,” given a certain amount of money each that matches the salaries of jobs such as police officer, social worker, carpenter or doctor.

At different stations, they pay for housing, transportation, health care and entertainment.


More from DA: Why financial literacy is gaining ground in K-12


In balancing wants and needs, students face decisions such as what they would do if they needed emergency medical treatment, says counselor Kathy Koerner.

“They get super-excited when they are given money and are able to walk around to different stations.” The “doctors” find they can get whatever they want, while “counselors” or “mechanics” find their money goes fast.

K-5 students also take a “career walk,” an extension of the school career fair. A volunteer visits each classroom to talk about their career and how they got there.

Each class makes a poster about the career to share with the rest of the school, Koener says.

“They’re connecting how much work they’re willing to put into school with how much they’ll earn later in life.”


Read the other stories in DA’s series on elementary school CTE.