Welcome to Tiny Town

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

COVINGTON -- The kindergarten hall at East Newton Elementary School looks a little different this week.

Students, staff and visitors to the school are greeted in the hall with a "Welcome to Tiny Town" sign and then they see decorated doors and classrooms, inviting them into various "shops," where students are having lots of fun and learning something new, too.

About 80 kindergartners and their teachers at the school set up five classrooms to serve as a spa, disco, theater, sweet shop and mask shop for a few days this week.

"It's a social studies and math culmination activity to sum up everything," said kindergarten teacher Tuesday Rawls.

She said this year, students have discussed money, earning money, jobs, goods and services and other topics during their math and social studies classes.

"Tiny Town lets them put it all together," Rawls said. "Everything is student run, but the teachers are here to assist with things they can't do."

At each shop for about an hour each day for three days this week, students either worked at or visited various booths set up to get a facial or manicure, buy popcorn, watch a movie or dance with a friend. Many activities cost $3 in Monopoly game money -- money students earned for good behavior and for working their scheduled time at a booth this week.

"I think it's very good," 6-year-old Nicholas Peppers said about Tiny Town. "I'm learning you make money when you work. I like that -- it's very fun, and it's only $3 to do things."

Although the students especially enjoyed visiting the booths, they also enjoyed working in them.

"I'm learning how to make cookies and masks," said 6-year-old Elise Moody.

Rawls said students earn money and realize they can only do the things that they can afford.

"They have to choose between different things because you can't have everything you want," she said. "They are learning so much. It's such a learning experience."

She said they also write about their experiences in their journals.

The school's kindergarten teachers borrowed the idea from a Morgan County elementary school after visiting there. It's the second year for the project, which many schools across Georgia are participating in this year, Rawls said.

"Money is so tight (at the school and school system)," she said. "We are not able to go on field trips and out into the community, so we are trying to do as much as we can within the school to get them that real-life experience."