Students at East Side Elementary School in Magnolia, Arkansas read and participated in activities around the Little Launchers book series during this year’s Magnolia READS program, a district-wide book club and financial literacy project.
The acronym “READS” stands for Reading Empowers All District Students. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade participated in the program, which included:
- A virtual pep rally to introduce the books to K-5th graders
- A video kickoff by author Erica Swallow (embedded below)
- Grade-by-grade KidVent invention challenges
- Educational activities for each book
The Little Launchers programming was led by the school’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, Jessica Talley.
Talley, who sits on the Magnolia READS planning committee and serves as the East Side Elementary/Magnolia Kindergarten Center Technology Specialist explained, “After we did our virtual pep rally introducing the books, we read together in K-5 classes for the month of April. I shared one book from your series each week and we worked on activities that dealt with some of the key concepts.”
The virtual pep rally, which took place on Monday April 5th, included a skit about the Little Launchers book series. A post to parents and students read: “To give a sneak peek into the Little Launchers series, Mrs. Talley and Coach Malone went of a field trip the wax museum and lucked upon a new exhibit featuring these four amazing kids and their businesses! Stay tuned for more fun things about our reading and research on how to be inventors and kid entrepreneurs ourselves!”
The “wax museum” was a wonderfully curated student exhibit featuring Magnolia students dressed up as the kid entrepreneur protagonists from the books. (See the exhibit at 4:10 in the video below!)
As students went through the week, they learned new vocabulary. Talley shared, “When we read about Gabby, we talked about being an entrepreneur, goods, needs, and wants. With Jason, we covered services, choices, consumer, producer, and invest. I’m so glad I found your books to help further show examples of this vocab!”
Talley was able to engage with multiple of the kid entrepreneurs from the series—including Rachel Zietz and Sebastian & Brandon Martinez—to share their stories directly with students, right from the Little Launchers themselves!
With Sebastian Creates a Sock Company, too, Talley says the students got to think about philanthropy:
“Last week was awesome sharing about Sebastian and Brandon! After we read the book, I was able to pull up one of their Nightly News clip and show how they’ve grown up and discuss their giving hearts. We discussed choices again and opportunity cost, scarcity, specialization, and touched on banks around town and what they can provide for us.”
Among other revenue-generating activities, Students created and sold colored plastic keychains and greetings cards. The proceeds were donated to charities of the student’s choosing—the local animal shelter and a local food bank. They raised and donated $595 in total!
Author Erica Swallow and illustrator Li Zeng were honored to see students of Magnolia School District diving deep into the Little Launcher stories. They were also impressed to see students reading a much denser book along the way: the first book in the twelve-book Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur fictional chapter book series by Luke Sharpe.
Arkansas students continue to amaze us. All across Arkansas, teachers are introducing students to the concept of kid entrepreneurship through our books, in part thanks to incredible teachers like Jessica Talley, and in part thanks to proactive organizations like Economics Arkansas, which introduces K-3 teachers to kid-friendly business books like the Little Launchers series.
Here’s to yet another fantastic year of Magnolia READS! Congratulations to all of the students who participated, and our gratitude to all of the teachers and administrators who inspired these young ones to dream big this month!