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Students learn the skill of buying

Armed with calculators and clipboards, second-grade students from Cooper Elementary School hiked into Super One on Tuesday. "Everybody will need a basket," called out their teacher, Dawn Theelke. Students stuffed coats and backpacks into green pl...

Armed with calculators and clipboards, second-grade students from Cooper Elementary School hiked into Super One on Tuesday.

"Everybody will need a basket," called out their teacher, Dawn Theelke.

Students stuffed coats and backpacks into green plastic baskets, then focused on food.

Their mission: Buy items for an area food shelf from four different food groups. But there was a catch. Each child had only $3.08 to spend.

"How much sugar does this have?" asked Emma Dumonseau, peering at the back of a box of cereal.

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When she saw the $2 price tag, she opted to put the box back.

"They're finding out money doesn't go too far," Theelke said.

The shopping expedition was step two in an ever-growing literary project. After reading "The Lemonade Stand" in class, the students were inspired to run one of their own. Super One donated the lemonade, Theelke said, so profits were high. Selling lemonade for 25 cents per cup, the class raised $92. Half of the money went to the Cooper PTA. The other half became a lesson in economics, math, social studies and community involvement -- or, as the kids saw it, a shopping trip.

Shopping partners Brianna Frank and Mayzie Sickler set cans of baked beans in their baskets.

"Now we each have $2 left," Brianna said.

Nearby, Ole Nelson perused the apple selection.

"They're pretty tasty," he said.

His partner, Blake Hanson, scooped peanuts into a clear plastic bag and set them on a scale.

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"Look at that, one pound," said Dustin Anderson, Title I teacher.

Blake beamed.

In the condiment aisle, Syndi Clarke and her father, David, peered at peanut butter.

A $1.39 jar was added to the 89-cent can of green beans in Syndi's basket.

"So you have 80 cents left to spend," Clarke told her.

"Do you think we could get some pasta?" she asked.

After finding items from each of the four food groups -- dairy, meat, bread and cereal, and fruit and vegetables -- students came up with creative ways to stay on budget.

Emma chose a bag of peanuts, two cans of vegetables, a box of rice and a can of evaporated milk. Her final total: $3.09.

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"We can get rid of a couple of peanuts," said Erika Runstrom, a parent volunteer.

Her daughter, Faith, collected pasta shells, cans of mixed vegetables, evaporated milk and baked beans. But the items totaled $3.12. With help from her mother, Faith opted for a smaller can of beans.

Ole surprised himself at the checkout counter.

"I thought I'd only get about two things," he said. Bolstered by five packs of Ramen Noodles, the second grader purchased 10 items for people in need.

"They'll be glad," he said.

Brianna and Mayzie said their favorite part of the project was shopping.

"Do you know you're doing a good thing for the community?" asked parent volunteer Jenny Sickler.

"Yes," Mayzie said with a smile.

"It makes me feel good," Brianna said.

Parent volunteers were impressed with the project.

"I think it's wonderful," Sickler said. "I think it's a great lesson for them to learn step-by-step, selling something and using the money to help the community."

The project even gave Theelke a new experience.

"I feel funny," she said as she gathered the children up for the walk back to school. "I paid for the bill in quarters."

Maria Lockwood covers public safety. E-mail mlockwood@superiortelegram.com or call (715) 395-5025.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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