10 Business Ideas For Your Special Education Class

a woman in a red shirt holding two takeaway coffee cups in a cardboard holder

If you’re looking for fun and educational activities to engage your students and develop their skills, look no further!

Student-run businesses are not just fun activities – they teach lots of skills to our students.

In this article, I’ll be sharing some exciting student-run business ideas that I’ve tried. I’ve made them specifically for my transition classroom, but with a few adjustments, it can benefit all students, not just those in special education.

Here’s a quick look at the 10 business ideas I’ll share with you:

  1. Coffee Cart Business
  2. Snack Cart
  3. Smoothie Making & Delivery
  4. Bake Sale
  5. Halloween Candy Purchase & Delivery
  6. Thanksgiving Grocery Delivery
  7. Valentine’s Delivery
  8. Flowers and Cards Sale
  9. Handmade Craft
  10. Recycling

Let’s explore these ideas together!

How to Start a Student-Run Business

It’s easy to think of student-run businesses, but it’s not as easy to start executing them. It can seem overwhelming. So, don’t worry because here are some tips to get you started!

a person delivering candies from a student-run business

#1 Brainstorm with Your Students

Involving your students right from the start is key to making your student-run business a success. 

Ask them what kind of business they’re interested in. Listen to their ideas and involve them in making decisions. The more interested they are, the better!

Also, think about your own skills as a teacher. Can you support the business idea they choose? If it’s something you’re knowledgeable about, like cooking homemade salsa, that’s perfect! But if not, it might be a challenge.

By considering everyone’s input, we can ensure that everyone will work together to make this business a success!

#2 Plan the Business Operations

When you’ve finally decided on what business to start, it’s time to plan!

  • Choose Your Target Market

Who would you like to sell to? Are you selling to the teachers, fellow students, or everyone in school? Knowing your audience helps you make products they’ll like.

  • Work Out the Process

Think about the step-by-step process for running your business. From preparation to fulfilling orders, plan it all out. Set up guidelines and safety rules. Make sure you list everything that needs to be done.

  • Think of Money Management

When starting a business, money matters. You need to consider where to get start-up funds for supplies. I usually get money from my own pocket, but you can also ask the school admin for funds. 

Next, decide on prices and manage the money. Plan how to use profits for things like community outings or new classroom supplies.

  • Assign Roles

Assign your students different roles based on what they’re good at and what they like to do. If you’re teaching a Special Ed class, you can use their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

For example, if your student loves talking to people, they can be in charge of talking to customers. If someone is creative, they can make the visuals for your business. Everyone can do something they enjoy and learn new things!

  • Determine the Hours and Days of Operation

What days and how many hours will you want your business to open? Depending on your students’ time and academic needs, your student-run business can be a one-day event or a daily business.

#3 Ask Permission from the School Administration

Once you’ve got everything planned, the next important step is to ask permission from the school administration.

Sit down with them to discuss processes, money management, and other details. Moreover, explain why you want to start the business and what students will learn from it.

Once the school admin says it’s okay, you can start the business. You might be amazed at how much they can support you!

#4 Prepare the Supplies and Materials

To get ready for your student-run business, make sure you have all the materials you need.

Think about what you’ll be selling and try to get donations or buy things in bulk or from dollar stores. If you’re setting up a stall, you’ll need a cart or table. It’s also important to have visual directions, flyers, order forms, a master list, and invoice forms.

These materials will help your business run smoothly and make it easier for everyone involved.

#5 Advertise Your Business

Spread the word about your student-run business! There are different ways to do it.

You can make flyers with your students or send emails to teachers if they’re your target customers. You can also send an email to all staff asking for help and support.

Get creative with posters and flyers – your students can draw or paint them by hand. Or, you can get ready-made and editable flyers online.

Additionally, you can practice social skills by talking to each class about your business.

With these strategies, you’ll let everyone know about your business and get them excited to support you!

10 Fun and Productive Student Business Ideas

After the preparation, it’s now time to look at ideas! Here are some of the businesses I’ve tried with my class. They’re great job opportunities for your transition, vocational, and life skills program!

coffee business

#1: Coffee Cart Business

Imagine a special coffee cart buzzing in your school all year round!

A coffee cart business is perfect for middle school and transition students. It can help you teach SPED job skills while helping out your fellow teachers and school staff at the same time.

This business can be done in a small area in your classroom like a small coffee stand or you can do a delivery service where the students will deliver the orders using a rolling cart. It depends on what’s more convenient for your class.

As for the equipment, of course, you’ll need a coffee machine. When you start sending out e-mails to parents and teachers, you can also grab the chance to borrow a machine if they have one.

Check out this Coffee Cart Making & Delivery Bundle for a set of ready-made templates, order forms, and visual directions!

This is a unique and fun activity. Your students can learn a lot of valuable skills in food preparation, customer service, and money math. Plus, your co-teachers will love having coffee delivered right to their classroom!

#2 Snack Cart

This is a business with endless possibilities!

If you consider yourself a kitchen expert, you can help your students prepare homemade snacks for selling. There are also a lot of recipes online!

Another option is to sell easy-to-make or ready-made snacks like pizza, popcorn, sandwiches, or baked potatoes. Aside from being easy, they also don’t cost a lot. Just pick foods that are easy to make in bulk and need inexpensive ingredients.

Serving these snacks can help your students learn a little about cooking, serving, and handling money.

#3 Smoothie Making and Delivery

Operate a smoothie stand with a selection of fresh fruit smoothies! This is perfect for an extended school year (ESY) during summer. You can give your students a meaningful job opportunity while helping other ESY classrooms enjoy, too!

This business idea can easily be done. Here’s a no-prep and editable bundle for a smoothie-making & delivery business! You can either take pre-orders and deliver the refreshing drinks to classrooms, or set up a booth during break times for a few days.

Have your students research stores or markets for discounted prices, make a shopping list, take and organize orders, and create and deliver smoothies. They can learn about nutrition, food hygiene, customer service, and vocational skills.

#4 Bake Sale

Interested in baking? Why not set up a bake sale with your students? Bake delicious treats like bread, cookies, and cupcakes. And if you’re not into baking, one easy way to do it is to use pre-made mixes from the grocery store.

When you’re done with the preparation, you can set up a table for your treats and sell them to other students and teachers.

This activity will definitely help your students not just learn how to bake, but also learn about teamwork, following recipes, and managing money.

You can open this business once a week. If you have a small, countertop oven, you’re good to go! Who knows, this business might be a hit and you’ll have funds for a full-size kitchen in no time!

#5 Thanksgiving Grocery Delivery Service

Are you looking for a fun and meaningful way to help out your teachers and staff? Start a Thanksgiving grocery delivery service with your special education class. It’s a unique option that’s also perfect as a community-based instruction activity!

Instead of worrying about shopping for their Thanksgiving dinner, teachers and staff can simply place their orders, and your class will take care of the rest. From picking up the groceries to delivering them right to their office, you’ll get it covered.

Not only does this service lighten the load for your busy co-teachers, but it also provides your students with an opportunity to learn important life skills like making a grocery list, shopping for food, managing budgets, and practicing safe transportation.

This activity can be a real game-changer for everyone involved.

#6 Halloween Candy Purchase and Delivery

Here’s an option that won’t require you to create and sell something – a Halloween candy purchase and delivery service! It’s something that my class and I really enjoyed doing.

This idea came to us when one of my students, who loves visiting teachers and staff around the school, was disappointed to find empty candy bowls during his rounds. We realized that maybe the staff was too busy to shop for Halloween treats, so we decided to help out!

Here’s how it works: we collect orders, shop, create invoices, deliver, and collect payment!

With this activity, you can be able to celebrate Halloween and learn important skills like money math, budgeting, and organization.

#7 Valentine Delivery Service

How about starting a Valentine delivery service? As the end of January and the start of February roll around, your students can do this activity.

Basically, students will take orders from busy teachers who might not have time to shop or make their own. These orders focus on gifts for Valentine’s Day, like flowers, cards, and chocolates. Then, you’ll shop for them before completing the special deliveries.

This project is not only fun and heartwarming but also teaches us life skills and teamwork. Plus, it’s a wonderful way for us to show appreciation for our fellow teachers and make Valentine’s Day extra special!

#8 Flowers and Cards Sale

Aside from food sales and delivery service, you can also try setting up a flowers and card stand on special occasions like Teacher’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s Day. This can be done every quarter of the year!

If you have a background with flower arrangements, you can buy flowers in bulk from your local florist at a discounted price, so you can save more. But if not, you can always get ready-made bouquets or flower pieces! As for the cards, you can buy, print, or for a personal touch, have your students make them.

It’s a great opportunity for your students to practice their creativity and social skills, all while making special occasions even more memorable for everyone involved!

#9 Handmade Crafts

If you want to challenge or develop your students’ creativity further, try selling handmade crafts!

It’s a fantastic idea that’s beneficial for your students. You’ll get to unleash their creativity by making all sorts of beautiful crafts. You can make bracelets, painted pots, home decorations, or even tie-dyed shirts. The options are endless! 

Plus, selling your crafts allows you to practice important skills like math, communication, and teamwork.

One easy way to do it is by starting with simple crafts that don’t require a lot of materials or special tools, like friendship bracelets or painted rocks. Then, you can set up a table at school events or just outside your classroom to showcase and sell your creations.

#10 Recycling

Give back to the environment while earning funds for your classroom! A recycling project is one of the easiest ways to make money while also doing something good for the environment.

All you have to do is set out recycling bins or ask classrooms to save their cans and bottles, and then your students can collect them each week and bring them to recycling centers. Some recycling centers pay for things like batteries or electronics, too!

Why Business Activities Are Good For Your Students

Having a student-run business in your special education classroom isn’t just for fun, it comes with loads of benefits!

Whether you’re selling smoothies or doing delivery services, you’re giving your students a great way to practice their life skills like independence, money math, and responsibility. You also give them a new place to learn and make them understand that learning is not limited to the four corners of your classroom.

Plus, being part of the business process helps your students develop social skills and gives them a sense of community and partnership.

It’s like having a real-life job where they can gain experience and feel proud of themselves!

student filling out order form

That’s a wrap! I hope you found something worth trying in my list of student-run business ideas. Check out this bundle of Student-Run Businesses with ready-to-go templates to help your students run their own businesses in school!

Starting a student business at school helps special education students grow and learn in many ways. They get to do things hands-on, learn new skills, and work with others. This makes the school feel more welcoming and helpful for everyone!