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All in a Lemonade Stand: How to Teach Philanthropy

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Ice cold lemonade on a hot day.

Smiling children standing on the curb waving posters they made themselves.

Maybe a chocolate chip cookie or a popsicle.

A Normal Rockwell moment.

“Lemonade for sale!”

Your own slice of summer for less than a dollar.

Yet the lemonade stand is much more than that. It is an opportunity for parents to teach their young children lessons in philanthropy, math, art, marketing and entrepreneurship.

Every lemonade stand my children host to earn money for the latest must-have toy must be preceded by one held for a philanthropic purpose. It’s our family rule. They want a new video game? First they have to earn $25 for their next Kiva loan.

First, they conduct Internet research to decide to whom they will make their loan: a poultry farmer in Mozambique, a baker in Kenya, a print shop owner in Bolivia. On Kiva, they read the stories of each entrepreneur. The oldest picks the baker because he too likes to cook. Another day, they debate for half an hour before finally deciding on the poultry farmer because he wants to send his kids to school.

Then they decide what they will sell and set a financial goal (usually the minimum $25 for a Kiva loan). They also add up the cost of their ingredients, knowing that they may have to return it to the bank (me) before celebrating their total earnings.

They argue about what to charge and create colorful posters that can be seen from a passing car. I help by sending emails to their friends moms inviting them to stop by – an extra marketing effort to create foot traffic. Last year, when business slowed, two of the boys taped advertisements to their bikes and rode around the neighborhood yelling “lemonade for sale!”

After two hours in the heat and still a few dollars left to raise, they realize how hard it is to start a successful business. They lose focus. They toss a baseball. They start eating the last of the cookies.

“Can we go inside now? It’s too hot!”

“Hang in there just a little longer. You still have a few more lemonades to sell to reach your goal.”

“Lemonade for sale!”

And then the neighbor who passed by earlier on his bike returns with his dog and a five dollar bill. “Keep the change.”

The math whiz quickly counts all the money they have collected in the red plastic cup. “Twenty-six! We did it!”

And amidst the cheering, “Can I have another cookie?”

“Is there more lemonade?”

“Can we do it again tomorrow?”

Jennifer Kelly is a Denver mom and freelance writer with a focus on early childhood education. In 2010, that focus culminated in her founding Penny Jar Kids, which creates Global Giving Kits to engage children in philanthropy while learning about the cultures they choose to support.  She also writes jennswondering, a blog that focuses on the challenges of parenting and teaching. 

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson June 26, 2013

    Love this and what a great thought. We decided to do something a bit different but similar and donate a portion of my daughter’s face-painting proceeds back to the Food Bank of the Rockies’ Kung Food Fighters Club. Can’t ever start too early!

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