Pop-Up Town Prompts Valuable Lessons

‘HollyWoof’ brings third-graders and freshmen together

Kearney, Mo., May 13, 2022: The mayor of HollyWoof had everything under control.

HollyWoof was a fictional municipality incorporated for three hours today in the east gym at Kearney Junior High School, population of roughly 100 energetic souls – about 50 third-graders from Dogwood Elementary School and about 50 freshmen. This bustling town boasted a welcome center, court of law, bank, florist, restaurants, amusement park and craft centers, all managed and used by students.

The mayor of HollyWoof was Lydia Jury. She stood in a Bulldog purple crown amid a swirl of commerce and surveyed the scene.

“My job is to make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to and making sure they’re happy and enjoying their time,” Mayor Jury said. “We’re also learning. We’re learning about economics and how to spend money. You have to spend money wisely. You can go around and spend your money on different things that you really need instead of spending all your money on one thing that you don’t really need.”

HollyWoof was the result of a Project Based Learning experience organized by KJHS Humanities teachers Alli Baldwin and Lauren Thomas in collaboration with Dogwood Elementary teachers Stacey Covington, Sara Alshouse and Kasey Stegall. It was designed to provide an economic simulation, with the freshman running the shops and the third-graders given a limited amount of fake money to use.

“It’s so important for our students to have hands-on, interactive experiences, especially when you’re teaching a topic like microeconomics,” Ms. Baldwin said. “This is noisy and fun, but they are also gaining some really important insights about value and scarce resources. As a teacher, it doesn’t get any better.”

Freshman Tyler Maynard served as the mayor’s assistant for the day. He was figuring out that it’s not always easy to keep younger children focused on the task at hand.

“Today, we’re teaching third-graders how to budget money and how to run a city, how to participate in an economy,” he said. “I’m learning how hard it is to be a teacher, but also how valuable. This has been a lot of fun and we’ve learned a ton.”