Without much discussion, students were given $10 (pretend cash) to spend at "stores." Before shopping, consumers got to take a peek at the products and services being sold through various advertisements. Parents were running the stores... and WOW did they talk up their products/services! The excitement was through the roof and students couldn't wait to spend their money.
Once shop opened up, students were able to make choices about how to spend their money. This was tough, as products and services ranged from $1 to $10. Half way through the market, consumers paused while shop owners reflected (aloud) on their sales, their prices, and how much product they had left. At this point, they could change their sale price as they wanted. This caused for frustration in some kids, "I paid $10 for this poster and now it's only $5!", excitement in others, "Yes! Now I can afford the headband!" and curiosity in many, "Should I buy that now that it's cheaper?". Students could also make the choice to save their money; which proved very hard for most to do!
This experienced replicated SO many of the concepts that will be studied in their upcoming unit. It was a fantastic provocation, made possible by the work of the teachers and the AMAZING sales pitches by the parents. I've never seen a market simulation like this!