Friday, 29 August 2014

Playing shops

'Pupils continue to become fluent in recognising the value of coins, by adding and subtracting amounts, including mixed units, and giving change using manageable amounts.'  

National Curriculum, Key Stage 2, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, Charlie and I spotted a forthcoming fundraising event being advertised in the local park.

I decided this would be a good opportunity to raise a bit of money for a good cause, get rid of some unwanted clutter at home and give Charlie an opportunity to get involved with the local community. I spied lots of educational opportunities too.

We began preparing for the stall a few days before. I dragged out boxes of old toys and books from the loft, whilst Charlie sorted through the toys in his bedroom. This was a good exercise in learning how to let go of things that we no longer need. There were a lot of toys that Charlie hadn't seen for a long time and that he found hard to let go. Sometimes, after discussion, he accepted that he had outgrown them and that, although they brought back happy memories, it was time to pass them on to younger children for their enjoyment.

Some of the old games needed to be put together again to see if they still worked. The old Hot Wheels game was fun.

We also had to check the contents of old games to see if all the pieces were still there. 

Then we had to start pricing everything up. We discussed how much to charge and, if we weren't sure, we looked some things up on eBay to compare costs. I explained that we had to get a balance between charging the amount people would be willing to pay for secondhand goods and also making money. Charlie pointed out that some of his brother's old XBox games were more popular than others, so we gave those higher prices than the less popular ones. He was beginning to understand the concept of 'market demand'.

Charlie wrote the prices on stickers and stuck them onto each item. Sometimes, I added an extra selling point.

 Charlie made up bags of his smaller toys, put them in a box and priced them up too.

I explained that we needed a 'float' of cash in our till, so that we could give change if necessary. As we were pricing everything in multiples of 10, that meant we only needed change in 10ps, 50ps and £1s.

Charlie thought we'd make lots of money, but I pointed out that we were paying £10 for the pitch, so we would only make a 'profit' if we made more than £10.

After Charlie had gone to bed that night, I sat up till the early hours, sorting through old school uniforms and other items and marking prices. I set everything out in the hall, ready for the morning, and went to bed at about 2.30am.

That morning, we were up early and setting up the stall by 8.30am. We didn't have a trestle table, so we laid everything out on a picnic rug and hung the clothes up on a portable clothes rail. Cheaper clothes were in boxes for people to rummage through.

Once we'd set up shop, we waited for customers.

And they came... 

As shopkeeper, Charlie had to add up items and work out change. If someone bought several things, he even had carrier bags to put them in. He loved every minute and said, "This is so much fun!" He also quickly learnt to develop a sales pitch: he simply said, with a sweet smile, "I've made bags of toys for only 20p." Not one adult could resist and the 20p bags of toys turned out to be our bestsellers.

In between customers, we chatted to other stall holders. A boy of about Charlie's age was running a stall next to us with his parents and he kept coming over to look at the toys, but then going back without buying anything. Eventually, Charlie said, kindly: "Would you like something for free? I have enough money now." 

We were very lucky with the weather: the sun shone all day. In between customers, we sat, basking in the sunshine and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. I bought homemade cakes from a local stall and we ate them for our lunch.

Eventually, the sky began to cloud over and the customers began to thin out. We packed up our stuff and drove our unsold goods to the nearest charity shop. After a visit to his grandma to report on the day's events, Charlie and I worked out the profit: his brother had made £6 on old XBox games and Charlie had made £6.30 which he is planning to put towards a new game for his DS. 

We also have a lot of change left over to practise using money.


  1. I love this post, the perfect way to make maths fun!

  2. This is a great way of teaching maths and well done to all involved! That is a pretty good profit to make as a little boy - what an achievement!
    Thanks for linking up to the #homeedlinkup

  3. Brilliant! We love shops for maths work too but have never actually sold anything like this. Harry would love it.