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How to Implement a Classroom Economy System

classroom economy reward system

Have you ever wanted to set up a classroom economy system in your elementary classroom but felt overwhelmed by the thought of where to start? If so, you’re not alone. Setting up a classroom economy can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be! By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you’ll be able to implement a classroom economy system that’s perfect for your students and classroom environment. Whether you’re a veteran teacher or just starting out your teaching career, you’ll be able to build a classroom economy system that will give your students ownership of their learning, foster teamwork, and increase student achievement. Get ready to see improved student engagement, increased understanding of economic concepts, and even better classroom behavior!

A Simple and Easy Classroom Economy

Here is how I have implemented a simple money system in my classroom. I suggest starting out like this FIRST, otherwise it may be a little too much to manage.

  • Every week, I give my students $5.00 classroom dollars. I tell them that this is their student salary for the week. I use these classroom dollars from Rulers and Pan Balances!
  • The money could be given on Mondays or on Fridays before they “shop” at your store.
classroom money template
  • I give students extra dollars or take away dollars throughout the week.
    • Earnings: clean desks, being a good citizen, or doing something exceptional!
      • I give out extra earnings throughout the week as I see fit. Students work hard for these!
    • Deductions: late homework, inappropriate behavior, not following classroom rules
      • For deductions, I usually keep a clipboard with tally marks and take away the deductions on Fridays. It’s honestly a bit hard to take them away on the spot as it interrupts instruction.
  • On Fridays, we have our “General Store” and it’s something that students look forward too all week!

The General Store

  • Our “General Store” is every Friday. This is a time that I take away deductions, and students get to “shop” with their classroom money.
  • My store is very simple because I just don’t have the time to make it any more complicated than this. The great thing is – make it as simple or as complicated as you want!
  • Here is what students can purchase in my store:
classroom economy reward system
  • I told you it was simple!
  • A couple of tips:
    • If you cannot use candy as a treat, dollar store or party favor items are great as well.
    • My students LOVE the gift cards! That’s what they mostly spend their money on.

Classroom Auction

At the end of the year, we always have a class auction. I encourage my students to save their money for the end of the year, and it keeps them from buying too much candy from my store. : )

My fifth grade teacher did this when I was a kid, and it made such an impact on me that I kept the tradition!

For our classroom auction, I ask all students to bring in at least one new item to donate to our classroom. They can be Dollar Store items such as pens, notebooks, crafts, toys, etc. I’ve never had any trouble with getting these items in as parents are often very generous.

I also go to the Dollar Store and buy a good number of items as well. The items that have “sold” the best throughout the years have been: fidgets, notebooks, stuffed animals, and full sized candy bars.

One year, I had a clever parent send in a giant box. Students were SO EXCITED about it. It was filled with balloons and a gift card!

During our class auction, I simply choose an item and start the bidding at a specific classroom dollar amount. Students who are willing to bid on it raise their hands and keep their hands raised until only one student is left. We continue until all of the items are gone (and by that point, all of the students have spent their money as well).

A quick word of warning on class auctions:

I remind my students that if they don’t have money to spend, it’s because they chose to spend it throughout the year. There are always students who have a LOT of money because they saved up, and those that have only a few dollars because they chose to spend it. I DO; however, give them a lot of opportunities to earn extra classroom dollars as the year comes to an end. It’s a great incentive for those end of the year jitters!

classroom economy reward system
Here is a picture of one of our classroom auctions!

A Step Further:

If you have the time and motivation, you can also take a classroom economy a step further by incorporating more earnings and deductions. Here are a few ideas that I implemented this year:

classroom economy reward system
classroom economy reward system

I hope this strategy works for you!

Happy Teaching!


How to implement a classroom economy
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