Friday, July 22, 2016

Setting up a Classroom Economy

Have you ever considered using a classroom economy? This past year was my first time trying it out and having my students earn money and spend it. There's a bit to do for set up, so it helps to start preparing early if you'd like to bring this opportunity to your classroom. It's well worth the effort setting up because I saw an enormous leap in number sense and fluency!

What you need to start

First thing you'll need is the actual money. I downloaded fake money from Laura Candler's Teaching Resources and there's several sets on the web that you can use. You could even have your students create their own designs! I wanted to have it set up before the year began so I went with premade bills. I printed them in different colors and laminated them for durability. I highly suggest you print more than you think you need- your students will save/hoard their money!


You will also need a "bank" to store all of the money and keep it organized. I suggest the containers with drawers, that worked really well for us. If you decide to use coins (I did not) I suggest using a tackle box to keep all of them organized.

Lastly, you'll need "wallets" for your students to keep their money. We used think envelopes and my students decorated them. They could also be folded like a tri-fold which all the boys thought was pretty cool to keep it in their pockets.

How I manage it

A "banker" is chosen each week to deal with the money. I usually begin with a higher student that is comfortable counting money or skip counting. Basically this classroom economy is student run!

My students are given checks they can cash. The checks are up to you an d how/why you want to pay them. Or, you can hand our money like you would stickers after good behavior or hard work is shown. I like to do checks and teach my kiddos how a check is filled out.The fake checks I use are also a part of the Laura Candler's economy pack.

How students are paid

My students are paid for their work- much like in real life we're paid for doing work. You could use any system that keeps track of their completed work- whether it be a checklist, chart, keeping track as you enter grades, or just knowing how many centers they have each day. I use class dojo to keep track digitally and it also has time stamps so I can see if anyone is rushing. I pay my students $10 per center. This helps us work on our multiplying by 10. Once we get good at that, I make their centers worth more to up the challenge while definitely motivating them with a raise!

I usually do not have a problem with students completing work because they're motivated. However, their pay can be docked for rushed work or if it's lacking quality. Now I make many of their assignments as engaging as possible so that their sole motivation isn't money :) I believe my students enjoy their centers but also get paid- much like me!

What costs money?

Once you have an idea of what students can earn money for, they now need something to spend it on! I have rewards they can buy, but also bills and fines to pay.

-Coupons for experiences (line leader, teacher helper, no homework pass, etc.)
-Prize box
-School Store
-Ipad/Tablet time

(Bills show students a little glimpse into the real world-not everything is free! It can be a real eye opener.)
-Desk rental
-Pencil rental
-Bathroom fee (only during work time, students have ample opportunities for bathroom breaks without penalty)


Over the year here's what I have noticed since using our classroom economy...

-Faster subtracting when making change
-Faster composing with 50s, 20s, 10s, and 5s and flexibility when they only have certain bills
-Sense of responsibility for keeping up with their money and recognizing what's worth it to spend on and what's not
-Kindness in helping others if they are short on money

I'm excited to start my second year using a classroom economy and begin early with composing numbers with the different dollar bills to give my students a real world experience of math! I hope this helps you start a classroom economy of your own and make tweaks and changes to best fit your classroom!

Rock on,


1 comment:

  1. I love Classroom Economy and as a sub have seen it used in many classrooms! When I get a classroom of my own I definitely plan on using it!

    Confessions of a Modern Day Substitute Teacher