Sunday, March 3, 2013

Our Classroom Economy and Store

This past week was super busy for me- we had a bridal shower for one of my teammates, it was Dr. Seuss Day, and for some crazy reason on Friday of the week before, I decided to start our classroom economy- not thinking about all the chaos that was coming up! Anyway, it all culminated on Friday with Dr. Seuss Day AND the opening of our class store.

Several years ago, I came across an amazing teacher who writes for Scholastic, Beth Newingham. She is simply amazing- and amazing doesn't even do her justice. You can tell how dedicated she is to her students and how she strives to make concepts relatable and fun. Her stuff has become very popular and I'm sure you already know of her! If you don't know who she is and would like to know more, you can check out her website here.

One of my most favorite things she wrote about was her classroom economy. If you would like to read more about it, you can view her post HERE.

In that post, she explains in great detail how her classroom economy works. Because economic principles are part of our third grade curriculum, I decided to start the same kind of thing in my classroom. It fulfills instructional requirements, but also provides students with real-life experiences of earning, spending, and saving money. Plus, it's a great classroom management system.

Two years ago, I started my very first classroom economy. I went all out making applications, detailed job descriptions, bought tons of items for our class store- the works. This year, it is much more condensed. :)

My students have already studied a bit on economics and we have had many discussions regarding earning, spending, and saving money, so this was the perfect time of year to introduce the classroom economy.

To begin, we brainstormed jobs that we believed would be needed in our classroom. Common things like a secretary, librarians, etc. were thought of, but my students also brought to my attention that we needed a negotiator- someone to mediate when issues arise in our classroom. This surprised me, but I loved it! Once we decided on the jobs, the kids applied for the position they wanted and thought they would be best at. In the past, I used a form that I printed up to make it seem very official. This year, to be perfectly honest, I decided to start this on an absolute whim-seriously- so the kids wrote the information down on notebook paper. They wrote their full names, age, birthday, gender, the position they were applying for, and several sentences explaining why they deserved the job and why they think they would be good at it.

***Side note: In case you are reading this and thinking how I have gone this whole year without having jobs in my classroom- I haven't. Students have been doing different jobs all year, but they never earned money. They just did various tasks out of their own willingness to help!  ****

After reading the applications, I assigned each student a job. I explained to the kids that for the first few weeks, everyone will earn the same amount of money. After we've had the system in place and everyone  has a chance to do their jobs, we will decide on a pay scale as a class. We will decide if certain jobs deserve a higher or lower amount of pay and why. For now, everyone is earning a salary of $10/week. There is no rhyme or reason for the amount- just an easy number to work with!

Throughout the week, students have the opportunity to earn extra money by earning credits. In the past, I have used this printable sheet from Beth Newingham, and maybe eventually I will go back to that, but for now, students are recording their credits and debits on an index card. Simplicity, people! Students can earn credits by being on task, following directions, and so on. Credits will be added to their paycheck amount. However, the beauty of this system is that students can also receive debits. Debits will be taken OUT of their paycheck. Students can earn debits for things like not following directions, receiving a blurt alert card, and other non-favorable behaviors. The total amount of credits they earned during the week (credits minus debits) are added to their weekly salary and are paid to them on payday. I am the only one who can give debits and credits, and I am the only one who can record them on the students' log sheets. I simply use tallies. Easy peasy. Students must keep up with their logs throughout the week. If they are lost, they must start a new one. This is a great lesson in organization and responsibility. I had one student who had earned almost ten credits during the week but lost his log before payday. You can guarantee he will keep up with his log next week!

At the end of the week, I wrote students a paycheck. Each student received a check made out to them. This template came from Beth Newingham's post.

You can grab the template for yourself HERE. They brought their check to me and received Koonce Cash for their check amount plus any credits they earned. I designed the Koonce Cash myself and printed it on colored paper. I also found a 'paid' stamp at Office Max. Each check was marked 'paid' after it was cashed. After cashing their check, the students took their money to the class store.

Our class store is made up of several items I got at Wal-Mart (bubbles, erasers, mechanical pencils, etc., some classroom coupons I downloaded for FREE from K. Dupre on TpT (you can get them HERE), and some random other items I had leftover from other years. It's a little bare now, but it will grow over the coming weeks. 

Each item is labeled with the price. I aimed to have baskets or some other sorts of containers... as you can see, that didn't happen! 

While at the store, students filled out a sheet that recorded their spending choices. They recorded whether they were buying items for themselves or for someone else, or whether they would save their money for a larger item. We had great discussions about short-term and long-term spending goals. This form also came from Beth's post. You can grab the sheet HERE.

This first time around, I was the store cashier. If a student bought something, I collected the money, made change as needed, and wrote them a receipt. I was super excited to find these sales order pads at Wal-Mart. They have the carbon copy (I know they say they are carbon-less, but I don't know how to describe the extra copy any other way- the extra copy?!) underneath, so I was able to keep one for a record of sale and give the other copy to the student as their receipt. The kids loved having a receipt and it made their shopping experience more realistic. Eventually, we will do reports analyzing various aspects of our store and our spending habits as a class. Next week, the cashier will be a student's job.

The kids stored their money, their receipts, and their spending report in their "wallet." The wallets are just envelopes with a label attached. :)

In a month or so, the kids will be completing a business project and the store will slowly evolve into one of purely student-generated products. For now, I will be stocking the shelves myself. I guess they deserve it ;) Just kidding!

This is just the beginning of many great things to come with the class economy and store. Like I said, it is a much more condensed form of the system I ran in the past, but I think I like it the way it is! It's manageable!

Do you have any suggestions on how to effectively run a classroom economy? If you have any tips or tricks, please share!!!


  1. I have a similar set up in my special needs classroom. We actually started a check register instead of cashing their checks. They get their paycheck weekly and can choose to spend their money or save it for a quarterly class rummage sale. The kids love this and I could see even having them take their checks to the "bank" and choose to cash some in and put some into their accounts to save.

  2. Do you know of any templates for pay stubs that are free? My program is just starting to do a classroom economy, and since the interns are working approximately 25 hours a week, we thought it would be cool to show them how much of their checks go for deductions but the only generators I have found costs around $8 per paystub.


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