Reality Day: Bringing Your Career Day To Life

Update: you can get my updated packet here and the new virtual pack here.

Reality Day- The New Career Day

Career day or week is by far one of my favorite events at my school. When I started at my school Career Day was the same for all students- a day full of speakers. I decided to mix it up based on a program I attended through the County’s BEP program. I loved their “Reality Day” and decided I wanted to make our own event at our school. So now students in K-4th get to hear speakers and students in 5-6th get their own “Reality Day.”



1. Reality Day allows students to research careers they are interested in beforehand and live out their dreams on career day.

We research careers and the education and experience necessary to attain these jobs, median salary, similar careers, etc. beforehand during classroom guidance lessons. Students in 5th grade get to pick their career or job and I assign 6th-grade students their careers. Last year I assigned 6th grade their jobs out of sheer time necessity, but I discovered that I enjoyed doing this because it allowed me to assign them jobs they had never heard of or considered. For example, I assigned several students the job of an actuary. When those students got their actuary jobs they pouted, but when they saw how much money they made they wanted to know as much as they could about how to become one.

2. Students get a yearly salary based on the median salary of their selected careers. They must figure out how to break down into a monthly net pay.

On each log sheet I have helped them break down their taxes and pay. It’s important to review with them what number they start from. They then get to spend their money at the various stations I have set up: housing, car, child care, education, hair care, crystal ball, etc.

3. Plan for Reality Day to last for half a day.

You need at least an hour and a half minimum for the students to complete the event. This is an event you can do in elementary through high school age.

4. Parent and local volunteers really help make this day a success.

I really love using Volunteer Spot to help me keep my volunteers organized. Volunteer Spot sends out reminders for you and allows parents to sign up for whatever they are interested in- from helping set up to bring in snacks and water I can tell parents what I need help with and they choose how they want to help. This event is another great day to develop PR. We have about twenty local businesses attend this day and what a great way to include your community and spread the word about your program.

5. You can either do an interest inventory before hand let students pick their jobs or randomly assign.

This really just depends on the time you have, and I’ve done it both ways and enjoyed both. If we have enough time we do an interest inventory before hand and I take blank logs for students to write down their career on. We use the BLS to figure out salary and they keep their sheets until reality day. It’s a fun flipped lesson. You can also pre print careers and put them on clipboards. As students enter they randomly get a job. This is a fun way to encourage them to stay in school and work hard for those 6 figure jobs.


1. I added pet care.

Students are always begging for pets so I let them choose a pet. Although a pet is not necessary, if students choose to get one they can’t get rid of it.

2. I allowed some students to get roommates.

The students that showed they could make good financial decisions and yet still went bankrupt were allowed to pair up as roommates and cut their bills in half.

3. Next year I will am considering adding in spouses.

. In the years past I have told students they need to imagine they are the head of the household, thus have to pay for everything. However, I have many many many students beg for an imaginary spouse so I am considering adding on a spouse. To do this I would simply add their spouse to the total income at the top of their log sheet. I would assign their spouse’s job and salary- my kids love to debate so I have to set firm limits with them.

4. We also added a household goods station- for the students who wanted to spend extra cash buying a big screen tv.
5.  I created a virtual option for distance learning. Get it here.

What the students are saying: 

“I liked it when I was talking to the people behind the booths there because they were very kind and helpful and I like how I got to see all the things I would be doing in reality… I also like how we got all the goodies :)”

“My favorite part was how I could see that my parents worked hard and I would realize I should thank them more.”

“(I liked) Learning how to use money wisely.”

“I liked learning what life would be like when I grew up, it was really fun and a good learning experience.

“I learned to never gamble because I was doing good and about finished with the activities (in my $3,000) until I reached the crystal ball.”

“That the real world is really mean, and I probably shouldn’t, own a farm and have 2 kids.”

“I learned how to budget myself, how easy it is to go bankrupt, and in the future, to make my husband pay for himself and the kids.”

“I learned that the cheapest things aren’t always the worst.”

“I learned that when I ask my mom for something everyday, she might run out of money. I know now to be more cautious with my money.”

“That life is hard!!! Money can be scarce!”

“That being an adult IS NOT EASY AT ALL!!! Its a lot of money to be spending!”


What the students loved and hated: 

My favorite part about Reality Fair?
-“Buying things”
-“choosing how to play out my life”
Least favorite part?
-“The part where I went bankrupt”
-“loosing money”
What did you learn?
-“Couponing is the best”
-“That life is expensive”
-“Budgets are hard to keep up with”
– “I learned parents do lots of hard work”

-‘that you need to know the plan you have and make it good”

-” I don’t want to be a grown up”
– “money goes a lot farther if you spend it wisely”
– “go for the cheap stuff “

Shop the post

In person reality day
Virtual Reality Day

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