Nine-year-old Ezra LePage-Linch frowned as he assessed the passing potential customers.
On display, ready for sale, were a number of his handmade and hand-painted dinosaur trinkets: dinosaur ornaments, dinosaur bookends and yes – an ultra-rare and unique dinosaur candle in his genre.
LePage-Linch and his classmates at Lupine Experiential School in Vancouver held their annual Holiday Market at Vancouver Vineyard Church, where students sell homemade items and art as a highlight of their unit in ‘economy.
Students donate at least half of their earnings to charities they choose earlier in the year.
This year, which was the third annual Lupine Market, students chose Portland’s Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center and Family Dogs New Life Shelter as destinations for the event’s proceeds. The Lupine Experiential School was founded in 2019 by Jackie Taylor, who also works as a teacher and helped coordinate the market.
Seventh-year student Roman Ferguson, 13, displayed his collection of rock magnets, hand-decorated with googly eyes, Santa hats and other holiday accessories.
Fourth-year student Jad Eid, 9, was selling his own art: huge designs inspired by tech and his favorite mobile games like Geometry Dash, all done by hand with pencil and colored markers.
“I felt like using the paint was a little too easy,” Eid said with a laugh.
Other students sold baked goods, personalized clothing, hand soaps and non-dinosaur candles while proud parents watched.
The economics unit that preceded the event taught Lupine K-8 students everything from coin value, bartering and trading to more advanced concepts like understanding the stock market and developing corporate naming strategies.
“This is what all students do to apply their learning,” Taylor said. “They do the creation of the projects at home, but other design and art ideas are happening in the classroom. There is a real mix of learning at school and creative work at home.
LePage-Linch, who has attended the market every year since the school was founded, said he was especially passionate about this year’s charities because he loves both trees and animals.
“I feel good that we are supporting charities and I love learning what other kids are selling,” he said.
Megan Selvig, coordinator of the Opal Creek program, said she only discovered the market a few days ago and was thrilled to have developed such a partnership. The organization is helping protect the Opal Creek wilderness and the Jawbone Flats in central Oregon, an area that was burnt in the Beachie Creek fire last year.
Selvig heard about the event from parents of students who visited the site when they were younger.
“It’s so creative, not just for economic learning, but also for teaching students about charitable giving at a young age,” Selvig said. “We get a lot of donors, but this one really matters the most. It’s inspiring.