Primary Economics Unit: Factory Experiement

Factory Experience
We use this experience in conjunction with our Economics Unit in Social Studies.  While the experience only lasts for about 20-30 minutes, it does require some work and planning ahead of time.  We've got lots of pictures and pointers to share below!

The Factory
This experience shows kiddos the importance of organization and quality vs. quantity.  The kiddos LOVE it, especially because they get a snack to eat at the end.  This experience is also MESSY, so it is best to do it on a day your classroom is going to be vacuumed!  In the factory experience, kiddos make graham cracker sandwiches.  Materials needed are:
- 2 boxes graham crackers
- 2 or 3 tubs of vanilla frosting
- 2 or 3 containers of sprinkles
- paper plates for each kiddo
- 6 or so plastic knives
We try to make a Sign Up Genius ahead of time and have parents provide the materials needed for this activity!

You will set up 2 separate tables.  One table will be cleaned off and sanitized.  This will be the "factory table."  The other table will just need to be cleaned off.   This will be the "free for all table."
  The factory table will be organized.  There will be about 10 kiddos at this table depending on your class size.  We usually have about 20 - 22 kiddos, so we double up the jobs at the factory table.  At the factory table, there will be stacks of plates with enough for each kiddo, plate with piles of graham cracker halves, a tub or two of frosting with knives, and a container or two of sprinkles.  Once you set out the materials, select the kiddos you want to "work" at the factory table.  We take the kiddos into the hallway and talk to them about what is going to happen, what will happen at the factory table, and what their job will be.  In the pic below, you can see each side of the table has a set of kiddos doing a job.  This is how we double up the jobs. 
After you have told the factory table kiddos their job, make sure they wash their hands.  At the factory table, the first job is taking an empty plate and placing a graham cracker half on it.  Next, they pass it to the person doing the frosting.  They will spread frosting on the graham cracker half.
Then, the graham cracker goes to the person to get sprinkles on it.
After getting sprinkles, the graham cracker half gets a top on!
Last, kiddos at the end of the table take the plate and carry it over to another clean table where all of the finished graham cracker sandwiches will be collected.

While the factory table is working in an organized manner, the other table and the rest of the class is having a free for all!  At this table, set a plate or two of graham cracker halves, a container of frosting with a few knives, and a container of sprinkles.  Do not give these kiddos detailed instructions.  Just tell them to make graham cracker cookies and let them go to town!  This is where it gets MESSY!  

 No plates!
Finished pieces just sitting on the table!
Crowded table, not enough supplies for all so they have to share (or argue)!
Messy table!
Messy fingers!
Yikes!  Licking fingers!  We tell the factory table NOT to do this!
Oh boy!  This kiddo is ready to eat before everyone else!
At the end of the experience, the free for all table is MESSY!  Although it is sad for some kiddos, these cookies all go in the trash! 
The final products!  After the experience has ended and before the kiddos are able to enjoy a snack, we talk about what happened.  We prompt the kiddos to think about what each table looks like, what happened at each table, which cookies they would rather eat (although the free for all table kiddos always want to eat their cookies, we have to remind them about how they were unsanitary).  Luckily the factory table was organized and clean and they make enough cookies for the whole class to enjoy!
We've got more Economic Resources in this pack!  It includes vocab work and follow-up printables from this experience.