Students in Destiny Bair’s first-grade class at Mayflower Elementary School recently had a tasty encounter with economics.

The Log Cabin Democrat made its way to the school on Friday to see exactly what students were up to. As soon as the classroom door opened, an aroma of fruits filled the air along with first-grade giggles.

Students were divided into two groups — fruits and veggies — taking turns to pick out which items went where, filling cups with ranch for the carrots, and putting the tiny blueberries and pineapples on skewers.

After, the teams diligently took a cleaning wipe to disinfect their tables and gathered at the front of the room, patiently waiting for instruction from their teacher.

Bair told the LCD that the class had recently done a unit on economics and this was her way to get the kids that hands-on learning.

“They got to learn about goods and services, they got to learn about how we save money, how people earn income,” she said.

Bair said they’ve also been talking about money and counting coins.

The project on Friday incorporated both.

“We’ve really have just tried to put it altogether in one culminating project,” Bair said.

From the front of the room, the first-grade teacher walked her students through the next step of the day — they were to get up, walk to their cups of coins and wait to purchase the items.

Bair told the LCD the project started at the beginning of the week. She said students had been completing tasks around the room to earn coins.

“They have classroom jobs in here that they do daily,” she said. “I pay them daily for their classroom jobs. I will also pay people when I see extra hard work or if I see them being extra kind to a friend, I’ll just be like, ‘That’s awesome, here’s a dime for being extra kind.’”

The LCD had the opportunity to ask two students what they did to earn their coins. One student, Keelie, said she earned her money by taking out the trash, and another, Caleb, said he earned his by sharpening pencils.

Bair said she doesn’t do the behavior as much because she wants them to be “intrinsically motivated” toward that but, altogether, those were the main ways they earned their wages.

It was on Friday that the class entered into the next step of the project — making the goods and taking them to market to be purchased.

Students lined up to purchase the cups of veggies and fruits for 25 cents each.

“They’ve done a really great job,” Bair said.

She said she saw several of her kids try new things, which was good because many were hesitant.

“They did a really great working together,” the teacher beamed.

She said she also witness the group practicing counting out their money, truly motivated to buy that food.

“They’ve done a really great job of it today,” Bair said, sounding pleased. “I’m really impressed.”

Getting kids motivated to learn, she said, has to incorporate engagement, and the end result was something the class was able to look forward to from the start.

“They’ve really been applying themselves on everything this week and then it’s really exciting for them to not only put the skills they’ve learned to use but do so in a way that encourages those social [and] emotional skills too, working together and teamwork,” Bair said.

The first-grade teacher said she could teach out of book all day but it’s the interaction, those hands-on activities that get them going.

The bonus … the students also learned responsibility along the way regarding money, work and healthy eating.

“They’re also learning a little bit about how you don’t just go to the store and get things,” Bair said. “It goes from the farm to the store, you make the purchase, you bring it home and you prepare it.”

So many of the kids, she said, also aren’t introduced to basic fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

“This is just another good activity just on nutrition and healthy ways to eat fruits and vegetables,” Bair said.

The class partnered with Kids Cook! owner Faith Anaya an Kathleen Lawson, the executive director of economics Arkansas to provide the experience to the Mayflower students.