Create a Classroom Economy

cashTeach your students how to apply their number sense skills by establishing a classroom economy that functions for either part of or throughout the school year. Students can work classroom jobs, grow and run their own businesses and/or get paid for positive behaviors. They can in turn use their cash to buy certain privileges (e.g., lunch with the teacher, no homework pass) or items for sale (e.g., a piece of art from another student’s business or pencils from the class store).  There are several curriculum expectations that are practiced and applied, such as operations with money (adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, decimals, finding tax, sale prices, etc.), not to mention life skills (making decisions, planning, organization). Sounds like a great way for students to use math and money in a real-life context!

I have posted below some online resources which I found to be thorough and explain quite clearly how to go about starting and maintaining a classroom economy.  There are many variations and teachers should adapt the rules and expectations according to their own teaching philosophy and the group dynamic they have in the classroom. For instance, some of these example economies involve receiving money for good behavior and fines for bad behavior. I personally wouldn’t want to go down that road with my students because I think it puts a negative spin on things and students may lose their motivation and interest.

Establishing a classroom economy involves some extra preparation and work for teachers but the payoff could be well worth it. According to these resources, it doesn’t take too much time to get the economy going and once students get used to it things run smoothly. I have yet to try it myself but I am definitely intrigued!

1. How to Start a Mini-Economy“, Courtesy of the Council for Economic Education, Chapter 3. For more economic and personal finance lesson plans, please visit http://store.councilforeconed.org.

2. “How My Classroom Economy Works” (www.myclassroomeconomy.org)

3. “Classroom Economy, Power Pack“, a resource created by Laura Candler (2007)

I’ve also included the following resource because it shares a nice list of rewards that don’t involve junk food and pop!

Healthy Choices for Classroom Rewards (CHSNE Health Unit Collaboration, 2007)

4. Lessons from Inspirefinanciallearning.ca – choose Mathematics and a grade level to view the resources (the link will take you to Grade 5 resources).

5. EduGains Financial Literacy – Elementary Resources

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