The idea of having a student run Coffee Store in a school is not a new concept, and it’s definitely been done before in middle and high schools.
Over the last 3 weeks, I have been sharing short Instagram Stories about my class’s Coffee Cart Friday. Ask and you shall receive! Is that the saying? Well so many of you have questions about how my classroom is running our Coffee Cart Friday at the elementary level, that I’ve decided to share our setup and process so you can being implementing this simple, yet effective Friday activity!
A “life skill” is a skill that is a necessary, every day skill that a person needs to get through life.
Life skills we practice with our Coffee Cart include following a recipe, sequencing steps in an activity, fulfilling an order, appropriate social skills, sharing, peer-peer work, basic number recognition, reading and comprehension, health and hygiene, and so much more.
Coffee Cart allows students to participate with students on their grade levels socially, for both verbal and nonverbal students. It allows them to communicate and work through real life problems that arise during the Coffee Cart timeframe (for example: “The Coffee isn’t coming out, what is wrong? Oh, the blue light is on. The machine needs more water.”).
So not only are they getting appropriate, not-staged, real life interactions with other students and adults within the school setting, they are practicing basic math skills (2 spoons of sugar, 1 spoon of creamer), basic reading skills (reading and deciphering order forms, reading labels, reading school map to find teacher’s classrooms), and cooking skills (measuring ingredients) that they will all use through their lives.
“Non-academic” skills include fine and gross motor: measuring ingredients and not spilling them, opening the Keurig, taking 1 cup off of a stack, putting a lid on the cup, walking the cup to a teacher’s classroom without spilling it, etc. There are so many benefits to having a Coffee Cart in an elementary school setting, not only students with special needs, but any group of students.
When the idea popped in my head last school year, I first went to a teacher that I thought would be interested in helping our class (and theirs). This happened to be the 2nd grade Gifted teacher in my building. From there, we spoke with our school principal for permission and to discuss guidelines of what is and would not be permitted.
Questions you may want to ask your administrator:
– Are we permitted to ask for donations from staff / parents / etc?
– May we ask for staff to pay? What is an acceptable price? (Our participating staff members pay $0.50 each Friday).
– If we are permitted to charge staff, where can or should we keep the money?
– What documentation is needed from us (example: do we need to keep track of who participates and pays?).
– Where can we fulfill orders and where can we store the coffee makers?
– What is your administrators opinion and advice on how often to run the Coffee Cart? …do you want to do only one grade level per Friday, or maybe only have the Coffee Cart open every other week.
So what supplies will you need to get started?
The most obvious need is a coffee maker. For ease of use and safety, we decided to purchase 2 Keurigs. The funds for this purchase came from me… yes, I purchased both Keurigs with my own money. I think I paid $80 for each one at Target.
You will also need sugar, creamer, cups, lids, stirrers, spoons, and a variety of K-cups.
The other teacher participating donated a few boxes of K-cups to start. For more supplies, we asked parents to donate. Throughout the school year, as we begin to run low on supplies, we will use the money we earn each Friday to purchase more supplies, but for the initial opening, donations were vital.
The first step in implementing your Coffee Cart is all behind the scenes work and occurs before you actually start implementing the activity. You could do these steps in a variety of ways, but I will share how we started.
By now you know that my classroom is color-coded (view those blog posts here and here), which also means I had extra bins that I’d purchased just doing nothing but sitting empty. Now they’re filled with K-cups!
As we purchase or have more K-cups donated, we use Sharpies to color a dot or line on the bottom of each K-cup. Then we place those K-cups in the appropriate, colored bin. This makes it easy for fulfilling orders because the kids just have to grab 1 K-cup for a colored bin that matches a teacher’s check on an order form (which you’ll see in a minute).
The next behind-the-scenes step is deciding where you will have your Coffee Cart stations set up. We have 2 Keurigs, so we have 2 separate stations. Each station has all of the same materials so we can fulfill orders twice as fast.
As with the K-cup bins, we make life easier by using Sharpies each Friday to label teacher cups with the appropriate color of drink they’ve ordered. So let’s take a look at the order form…
Before our first Coffee Cart Friday, I sent an email to all of the staff in the building to let them know about Coffee Cart Friday and ask if they wanted to participate. I then created a list of teachers to collect order forms from.
On Thursday afternoons, we deliver new order forms to participating teachers. Our school has grade level hallways, so I will take a few students and my para will take a few students to make the process quicker. This also helps students learn where certain classrooms are and introduces my students to more teachers within our building (building more relationships!).
As you can see on the above order form, we print it in color (there are 4 order forms per 1 sheet of paper, so it helps with paper usage). *Side note: I have my students cut out the order forms to practice fine motor skills.
Where you see the word “pumpkin” in purple is our specialty beverage of the week. This all depends on what is donated or purchased. It might be pumpkin this week, caramel macchiato next week, and cinnamon donut the next. We will carry that flavor until we’re out.
Now… all of your behind the scenes work should be ready for the big day. The first day of Coffee Cart Friday!
When collecting orders from teachers, I take a few students and my para takes a few students. We stick to the same hallways each week. We have envelopes ready for students and take turns with the jobs: (1) person collects the orders and (1) person collects the payment.
So we don’t interrupt classes in session, we have asked participating teachers to tape their order form to their door outside of the classroom. They can also then put their money inside of a baggie and tape it up with the order form. We, also, do allow teachers to pay in advance.
As the students are collecting order forms and payments, I and my para are keeping track of which participating classroom teachers’ rooms we’ve visited (we both have an updated master list every Friday of participating teachers) and how much the teacher paid.
Like I said, we do allow teachers to pay in advance. On this paper is where we would write “paid for 2 weeks” in the margin next to that teacher’s name.
If a teacher pre-pays for a week, before we pass out the order forms on Thursday afternoon, I will write that teacher’s name on the order form along with “PD” at the top of the order form, as well as put a dot next to their name on the master list. I use a specific pen and color each week to keep myself and my para more organized.
Now on to fulfilling the orders and what the “stations” look like. As stated before, we have 2 Keurigs in our classroom dedicated to Coffee Cart Friday… which means we also have two sets of stations set up for fulfillment.
We are fortunate enough to have a classroom sink with plenty of counter room on either side. In the above picture, you can see how we’ve set up one of the stations. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, and all of the supplies can easily be cleaned and put away after we’ve fulfilled orders.
The picture above shows two stations. Yes two.
The first station is getting the orders set up. This includes writing teacher names on cups and getting the correct K-cup from the color-coded bins. The orders are then lined up as shown above.
The second station is brewing the beverages. This includes keeping the Keurig filled with water, emptying the K-cup after each brew, making sure the liquid is making it into the cup. You know, the basics.
As the student is brewing an order, the order form is placed in front of the Keurig. This helps us avoid confusion as the order is passed to the next station.
When an order is finished brewing, it is passed down to the last fulfillment station. This is where students will look at the order form to see if the teacher wants creamer and/or sugar and how much.
After creamer and/or sugar is added, the student puts a lid on to the cup. It is then placed on a table at the front of the classroom.
The last and final station is for delivery. As orders are completely fulfilled, the students from the GT class deliver the orders to the teachers. This is another reason why we write teacher names on the cups.
Once an order is completely fulfilled and placed on the front table, a student takes a pink marker and puts an X on it. This signifies that the order is completely filled.
After fulfilling all orders (on average, we’ve had about 30+ orders each Friday), we start clean up. This part is typically done by my students and myself. We rinse out the Keurig where the cups sit, empty all of the water out, and then I put it away. It is kept in a locked cabinet in our classroom. We, also, wipe down the counters and tables so our classroom is ready for more learning!
Coffee Cart Friday takes between 45-60 minutes each Friday morning. As we continue to practice the tasks, we are getting quicker at completing the tasks and fulfilling the orders we get. The first two weeks were rough… meaning I gave up a good portion of my planning time to help make sure all of the orders were right and sent out to teachers. But week 3 was a breeze, so just keep that in mind.
Hopefully I’ve answered all of your questions. If I missed anything or you have more questions, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you get started!