Okay, so plastic food, once one starts looking for it, is more ubiquitous here than one might think. And, I know why: Altars. When some people make diorama altars, they use varying sizes of fake foods, including fake beers and plates of mole.
So, I got a basket of pears and grapes and apples and bell peppers and lemons and corn and carrots and onions—and one egg. I also got a stash of play money.
I gave them each 1,500 pesos to start and told them they were to sell their produce. We talked about words such as sweet, delicious, sour, bitter, juicy. They each made a sign for the store. I encouraged them to make a store name and to offer sales and deals to draw their customers, their classmates, in. Their goal would be to make the most money from their peers. I worried that this might be too much of a popularity contest, but then I saw their strategies.
Making his poster, David asked me to translate the phrase for: No Loans. He didn’t want any deadbeat customers.
Miguel said he wanted to sell a box of tomatoes. I reminded him that he neither had a box nor tomatoes. He did have one banana and his book bag. He decided to offer this as Sack of Banana. One banana in a blue bag: 200 pesos! He didn’t even bother to try to sell the rest of his produce. He said that he’d keep it to feed his “family.” He, needless to say, did not win.
David kept working on his sales strategy. He decided that he wanted to add his bag of chips to the mix. He sold individual chips for 1000 pesos each, and the others flocked to his market to exhaust their fake money on his junk food. He won.
This activity taught them: colors, flavors, fruit and vegetable names, how much, how many, and more. Plus, they now know how to use the word thousand to count their piles of fake money.