Friday, July 20, 2012

Bank, Store, Paycheck... Just a Day In the Life of a Classroom Economy System!

 About six years ago (has it really been that long?!) when I was starting my first year of teaching, I was so anxious trying to figure out beginning of the year activities, classroom management, and learning a new curriculum. A friend of mine introduced me to the idea of having a classroom economy system and I'm so glad I took her advice. Since then, my classroom economy system has evolved. A classroom economy system is where students are "paid" for performing regular classroom jobs (door holder, paper passer, etc.). Students keep track of their money by using a checkbook and they withdraw money from our classroom bank. Money can also be spent at our monthly classroom store.

I really feel that having an economy system promotes a sense of community, teaches kids to be more responsible, and they learn money management along with many other important life skills. 

In this post, I am going to share with you how I run classroom jobs, bank, and store with my students. I will also be sharing with you some printables that I use, which you will be able to download for free. 

Setting up Jobs the First Week of School
Before jumping right into my class jobs and economy system, I begin by introducing the jobs to my students over the first couple weeks of school. Each day I select students to volunteer to complete the jobs. This allows the students to practice performing the jobs, which allows all of my jobs to run seamlessly throughout the remainder of the year.

After about 2-3 weeks (by this time the kids are really pumped up and are asking me daily, "When will we get to apply for jobs?"), the class helps determine how much each job is worth. By now, they know how each job operates, so they are able to come up with a weekly payment for the jobs. Each job is paid differently depending on the level of difficulty. The kids take a vote to determine how much each job should be paid. I love having the kiddos help make the decision about how much each job is worth. This is just another way to help them feel like they are part of a community.

Below is a picture of the payroll I use to keep track of how much I will be paying each person for their job. I left the payment part blank so that you can determine how much you want to pay your students. 

The Application Process

Once we have determined the payment for each job, it's time to apply! I walk the students through the application process the first time so they understand my expectations.

 My students keep their jobs for about one month. About a week before I change jobs, I announce that I am accepting applications. The students know that they can fill out an application in class as a "May Do" activity if their class work is completed. They are also welcome to take the application home or complete it at recess. 

 Job Board
I don't have a whole lot of wall space in my classroom, but I wanted a way to display the students' jobs. Since I love polka dots, I created a bulletin board called, "The Job Spot." I cut the circles and made a little pocket to slide each students' picture.

How are students paid? 

When students are hired for a job, they can expect to receive a paycheck from me each once a week. 

In addition to earning money for their job, students may also receive money for other reasons such as a prize for a class game, a reward for a clean desk, or as an incentive for having positive behavior. I rarely, however, reward students with money for having good behavior. I want my students to know that it is expected of them to follow the rules, so I only give money as a very special treat. The students simply add whatever amount of money they've earned in their checkbook. If they've received money for something other than a class job, I will tell them how much to put into their checkbook. For example, if a student had an exceptionally clean desk after a random desk check, then I will tell that student to add $5.00 to their checkbook.  The student will write the date, how much he/she earned, the reason they earned the money, and they will calculate their total.

In the beginning of the school year, I show my students several times how to use the checkbook and calculate the total. If you have older students, however, you will probably only have to show them one or two times before they have it down. 

Losing Money
In addition to earning money, students can also lose money for various reasons. Here are some things that they may have to pay for:

Traffic Violation (running or talking loudly in the line): $15
Bathroom (within 30 minutes after a recess): $5
Janitorial Fees (messy desk area): $15
Overdue library book (from the school library): $10
Extra copy of a paper or assignment: $10
New whiteboard Marker: $5
Desk Rent: $10 per month 

The students deduct the money they have spent from the total in their checkbook. Students also receive dollar bills (play money) from the bank, so sometimes they just hand me the cash for the above fees.

The Bank
 Each Friday the students get to visit the bank if they have competed all of their homework for the week. The students withdraw money from their checkbooks and receive cash from the banker. The banker makes note in the checkbook showing how much money was withdrawn. He/she also stamps the word PAID to show that the student has taken money out of the bank. 

The cash that I use for the bank is photocopied $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills that I found in a math resource book.

The students keep their cash in this wallet. They can use their cash to buy items at the monthly classroom store. I purchased these "wallets" at the Dollar Store.

The Classroom Store

 About once a month, the class can use their money to purchase items at my store. At the beginning of the school year, I ask the parents to donate small toys and school supplies for the store. I also find a ton of fun things at the Dollar Store and Target's Dollar Spot. Homework passes also make popular store items. I unfortunately could not find a picture of my store in action, however, I put my store items in containers with different price tags on the front instead of individually pricing each item. That way the kids know that all the items in the $10 basket are ten dollars, for instance. 

Other Fun Things

 Sometimes as a special treat, I  surprise my kiddos with a gift certificate to the class store. Gift certificates also make excellent class gift ideas when you're on a budget! 

 And of course, at the end of the month, it's always fun to recognize a hard working student with the honor of receiving "Employee of the Month!" The Employee of the Month always receives a bonus paycheck! I stick their picture in the middle frame and hang it up next to our job bulletin board. 

Download for Free
You can download my classroom economy starter kit for free by clicking here. It includes many of the printables you read about in this post along with some others. I would be more than happy to make changes for you to fit your needs. Just email me or leave a comment below! The graphics used for this starter kit are from Ginger Snaps and Fancy Dog Studio. The fonts came from Kevin & Amanda. 


  1. I love your Classroom Economy Kit. A while ago you posted about some prefix and suffix resources. I was wondering if you would be willing to share them with me?


  2. Hi Mindy!

    Thanks for the comment! Yes, I would love to share the prefix and suffix ideas with you as soon as I finish them. I started creating them towards the end of the school year, so I don't have that many and need to make more. I also wanted to improve the quality of them too.

  3. What a great system. Thanks for sharing. I think I might give it a try!

    Teach on a Limb

  4. I love the idea of a classroom economy. I saw it originally on Beth Newingham's website but it seemed a little complicated. Thank you so much for going in such a detailed explanation of how this works in your classroom and the pack for FREE! You guys rock!!!

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  5. Great! Thanks so much. I can't wait until you finish them! Enjoy the rest of your summer!


  6. I also use a classroom economy system and it has been the best management tool, and the kiddos love it too! Thank you so much for the freebie starter kit, I'll definitely add the Employee of the Month idea! Also, I love your Job Spot board.

  7. I love this idea and it has inspired me to try this again... thanks... and super cute blog and blog name :)

  8. Thank you so much for the feedback! We appreciate the comments!

  9. Hi ladies - just saw your comment...if you don't have a pinterest - you can always throw the craftivity into a blog post...that would count too. Whatever is easiest. :o)
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  10. Just found your blog. I love the name! I'm embarrassed to say the I watch the Real OC Housewives, but I'm glad to hear you're nothing like them. They are really mean!
    I like your Job Spot bulletin board. That's cute!
    First Grade Found Me

  11. First, I'm a HUGE RHOC fan (among other franchises) on Bravo, so I'm obviously a fan of your blog! I know you probably have more thoughtful and insightful things to say compared to those wacky housewives too. I'm a new follower!!

  12. I am your new follower. I love your classroom management system! I can't wait to read more of your blog!

  13. I just saw that you are my newest follower! Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm now following yours.

    Lacy's Letters

  14. This is a super idea. Kids are learning about money, responsibility, making their own choices, and so much more. I love it!

  15. I'm looking at doing classroom checkbooks for the first time this year. In the past I've used a token economy where kids get 10 tokens each day and can earn or pay tokens depending on behavior. But all I needed was cut out circles and a basket to collect them. How do you have kids pay the fees. Do they immediately get up to record it, do you make a note somewhere and follow through... just curious of the logistics.


  16. It seems that you are a true thinker and great content this article shows many similarities with its cycle of thinking about the importance of this topic. It contains a number of strengths that are unique and highly increase the value of this article for all readers. Check Ordering

  17. I love your classroom economy post, so I started it this year. I was wondering about how much do your students pick for the jobs they do? I just want to get an estimate to make sure I don't have my students pick to high or low of a dollar amount to get paid. Do you have an editable version of the class jobs where I can take off some jobs that don't work for my class and add some that do? Thank you!!

    Christina Rodriguez
    3rd grade teacher

  18. Oh Very nice. I see your post.. It's a very essantial post and a big usefull post for us. Thanks for share your effective content.I see this kind post a another website paycheck stubs keyword related.



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