Elementary Entrepreneurship: The Sky’s the Limit

Fostering entrepreneurship in the classroom encourages students to develop hard and soft skills, engage in problem-solving, and communicate effectively while pursuing their entrepreneurial ideas. Read about four key categories with examples for educating students on entrepreneurship and how to foster a "Dream Big" and "Never Give Up" mentality.


When you mention “Shark Tank” to students there seems to be excitement in the air. Why? Students want to invent things. They enjoy creating things they love. The idea of helping others while becoming a big success is appealing to them! We need to foster this “Dream Big” and “Never Give Up” mentality through entrepreneurship opportunities in our classrooms. Teaching entrepreneurship concepts in early grades can help students discover and practice their own interests and creativity. Schools can offer structured experiences that show students how to use their creativity and learn to not fear taking risks. Defined Learning supports these ideas and approaches entrepreneurship in a variety of ways. 


Four big ideas frame entrepreneurship in Defined Learning:


Social Entrepreneurship

People who want to help solve social problems with their products and services are found within this category of entrepreneurship. Their main goal is to make the world/community a better place. These entrepreneurs tend to start nonprofit organizations or companies that are dedicated toward the social good.

Check out one of my favorite tasks to support this topic: Entrepreneur: T-Shirts For Good.


Innovative Entrepreneurship

People who are constantly coming up with new ideas and inventions and take these ideas and turn them into businesses. Their goal is often to change the way people live for the better. Innovators tend to be very motivated and passionate people. They look for ways to make their products and services stand out from other things on the market. People like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are examples of innovative entrepreneurs.

I have worked with a number of teachers who have had a lot of success with this task: Entrepreneur: Improving School Experiences.


Software/Computer-Based Entrepreneurship

Individuals take their time when starting their own business. They want to explore a wide variety of ideas that could become software/hardware products or services to offer others. They want to do as much research as possible before developing their product or service. They believe that with the right preparation and information, they are more likely to be successful. An entrepreneur makes sure they understand every aspect of their business and have an in-depth understanding of what they are doing or going to offer. They tend to rely on facts, data, and the needs of people rather than their intuition. Detailed business plans are important to them and they believe these plans will minimize their chances of failure.

Check out one of my favorite tasks that also engages students in computer science: Entrepreneur: Tech Tutors.


Small Business Entrepreneurship

Small business entrepreneurs are focused on creating and running their own businesses, either on their own or with the help of others. This group of entrepreneurs includes many owners of smaller shops and boutiques, as well as trade workers and consultants. 

Check out a flavorful task to support this topic: Entrepreneur: Bake Sale.


By engaging in activities and experiences, students learn and practice hard skills, soft skills, and the ability to communicate in a meaningful way sharing their ideas with others. Many of these skills and the entire design process are great ways to incorporate technology to further support the student’s ideas and work. 

Students can learn meaningful skills such as conducting research centered around their idea, product, or service. They learn to collect information that supports their ideas. They can begin to understand cause and effect. Through persuasive writing techniques, they can develop main ideas with supporting details to justify their beliefs. They learn math that incorporates various aspects of financial literacy skills such as cost, expenses, and profit.

Soft skills flow naturally through learning how to be an entrepreneur, as relevant problems are solved through critical thinking and creativity. Students' solutions might be messy at first, as they brainstorm ideas and create plans while learning to value and listen deeply to their teammates. The process involves ongoing reflection. They often think they have a solution only to realize they need to do some market research or quality control.

Presentation skills teach the students how to communicate with confidence and share their ideas publicly. This can be challenging for adults, so helping students begin practicing early will have long-term benefits for your students.

Let’s continue to encourage students to take risks, enjoy creativity, and “Pitch to the sharks!” Including  entrepreneurship in our elementary classrooms will allow our students to “Dream Big!”

About the Author:

Heather Wertman is the Director of Educational Collaboration and Learning at Defined, where she continues her passion for education. She enjoyed over 25 years in elementary schools, as a STEM & Innovation Leader, curriculum developer, and building-level administrator for grades K-6. Heather is an experienced Project Based Learning (PBL) practitioner and leader who is an expert in using the Defined resources to bring PBL to life in classrooms across the country. 


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