Spark Student Motivation {Classroom Economy}

*I am linking up this post today {July 13} because I was a week early last week :)

I originally got my idea for a classroom economy from MY 5th grade teacher, Mr. Fiedler.  I wish I knew where he was today to thank him :)  I have used this system in the past, I used play money with 2nd graders and checkbooks with my 4th graders.  Some of the guidelines I use come straight from Mr. Fiedler.

During the first week of school I set my students up with a checkbook and teach them how to write a check and balance their checkbook.  {Side Note: I started implementing this again in my classroom because of our DAVE RAMSEY house hold.}  I used our poster machine at school to create a large check. I laminated it and use dry erase marker to fill it out for students to reference when they are writing out their checks.  I model how to complete the check register using our document camera.

 To create the checkbooks I use card stock.  Students decorate the cover of their checkbooks, they usually need new ones after Christmas Break.

Below is a picture of the rules for our classroom economy, you can purchase this set HERE.  Students are paid the beginning of each month, they pay desk & chair rent every monday, and can purchase items from the class store.  They earn money when they turn in their homework, earn a bonus for being the only student following directions, for helping in the classroom, etc.  Students also pay a fine when they have changed their color on our classroom behavior management chart.  If they need to sharpen their pencil AFTER the designated morning time they have to pay a fine as well.  This really helps them think about their actions.

Last year was the first year I implemented the Class Store.  When students have run out of their supplies and need more they can purchase or rent items from the store.  In the cans I keep pencils, dry erase markers, and scissors.  On Fridays students can purchase reward tickets or a visit to the prize bin.  

I collect student checkbooks at the end of each month for a math grade.  During the month I use a sheet {a class roster sheet, one you would use to check off homework} to keep track of students' deposits and withdraws.  For example if Little Susie earns $2 for turning in her spelling homework I write +2 next to her name.  If she purchases an item from the prize bin I write -5.  Since everyone starts with $30 the first month it is easy for me to keep track.  Once I have their new balance I write that amount in the first box on my Register Check Log for the new month.

I use this system just as you and I do in the real world.  If student's go into the negative and bounce a check they pay a fee, I only address this when it happens {there will always be one that does it}.  I no longer allow students to write checks to one another, this just became too difficult to keep up with.  Just like my punch cards other teachers and staff members can give students bonuses or fines.  There were many times I would enter my room after my students had PE and the teacher was rewarding bonuses for students who had a book out and reading.  I would just add them to my Register Log.

Students turn their checks into me, I have a little basket I keep them in.  If they are not filled out correctly I do not accept them until they have been fixed.

This system motivates my students to complete and turn in their work, encourages them to excel in order to earn bonuses, and encourages them to think about their behavior.  It is amazing how moving a clothes pin on the behavior chart has no meaning to a student, but then having to pay a fine for their behavior is the end of the world!

*Note: Last year's class could not handle the class store

In preparation for my class store I hunt down deals all summer long for items for my Prize Bin.  Who doesn't LOVE Target dollar bins!?!  We have a store called REA here and it is basically where damaged goods, liquidated items, and overstock items go.  You never know what you will find there, one reason I love it!  It is also EXTREMELY cheap!  Today I found these two bags of sports bottles, ten in each bag.  One was marked $2 and the other $3, I asked the cashier if I could get them both for $2 each...she said sure :)  I am sure these will be the first items purchased from the prize bin!


  1. What a great idea! Our new Math Standards in Texas have a "Finance" unit. This goes right along with it. Thanks for sharing!

    Teaching With Moxie

  2. Our 5th grade class used a checkbook too. I think it is a great idea, and I am sure it keeps them motivated!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  3. I love this idea!! Every kid needs to this all the way through high school! Sending kids off to college with this knowledge would be great!!!

  4. I love the idea of using a checkbook system for motivation.

  5. I love the idea of the checkbook instead of dollars. I've been trying to figure out a way to implement the economy management without "dollar bills" because our school uses PBIS Bucks and I think it would be too confusing. This is perfect! Thank you!
    ideas by jivey
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  6. What a great, detailed post! I loved the money system when I was younger too! We had monthly auctions in our classroom (the students could bring items to auction off too). I love the checkbook idea because I've always been afraid to try this in my class because keeping track of all that money seemed like a nightmare! You have such an organized system! Thanks Jess for sharing and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching


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