A couple of Pine Grove Elementary School's portable classrooms became shops last week to give students a chance to get in a little Christmas shopping. Temporarily renamed Gingerbread House, the rooms were filled with products provided by Kid's Korner Gift Shoppes. The weeklong event was a fifth-grade fundraiser to help finance the class' graduation. Fifth-graders will receive a pizza party and shirts with all the students' names printed on each. The Christmas shopping opportunity seemed like a good way to raise money and provide a service to the Pine Grove students.
"We thought it would be a great idea in the school as a community to let the kids come in and shop," said fifth-grade team leader Melissa Isaksen, who oversaw the project. "The students get so excited to pick out their own presents without their parents here."
The students were able to choose from products that ranged from 35 cents to $12.85. After purchase, the gifts were put in decorative bags ready to be placed under the tree.
Selected fifth-graders, some adorned with fuzzy antlers, were on hand to help the younger students with selections and calculations. Fifth-grader Jasmine Jean-Marie, 10, recognized the schoolwork she was doing even though she wasn't in math class. "It helps you add in your head," she said.
The products were separated on tables according to price. At the high end, $12.85, there were watches and penholders with calendars on them. The next level was $11.55. Here there were eagle belt buckles, pens with matching key chains, crown necklaces and guitar clocks.
At $10.30 there were talking calculators and 11-in-one screwdriver kits. For $9, students could choose from earrings, color change clocks, "Awesome Dad" caps and wooden sailing ships.
The next category dropped to $7.70, where metal puzzles, ties, mother plaques, rings, necklaces and belts were available. The prices kept dropping to 35 cents.
What could a child buy for a dollar or less? For 65 cents, there were tiny screwdriver key chains, sports and all-star key chains, sticky sports balls and the apparently very popular egg filled with slime.
At 35 cents there were strings of plastic beads (think parade handouts), pinwheels and sticky spiders.
Fifth-grader Steven Hudson, 11, said the Gingerbread House is a good idea for teaching the children. "They're learning that they should give back," he said.
He also likes the idea of the fifth-graders assisting. "I think it's because it's more inspiring for the little kids to see older ones helping them."
Fifth-grader Erica Siri, 10, said she learned some patience during the time spent advising younger children and said the shopping reinforces what they learn in class.
"I think it's adding to us the true spirit of Christmas. It's not all getting gifts. It's about being with family and letting them know we love them. When our teachers teach us, it's also about sharing and giving respect."
Suzanne Hudson, 43, Steven's mother, volunteered at the Gingerbread House.
She agreed with her son that it's a nice opportunity for the students.
"It helps them buy gifts for their family members," she said, alluding to the higher prices of many items in regular stores.
As she watched the young shoppers, she was impressed by those who were apparently taking the opportunity to heart. "Some of them are so cute," she said. "They come in with a whole bag of change, and you know it's their money."