Getting Started with a Class Economy


I love using a class economy in my fourth grade classroom for so many reasons...real life application, math practice, and organization, to name a few.  But one of the major reasons that I love using a class economy is that once I get things going, it practically runs itself!

So what is a class economy?  A class economy is a classroom management system where students learn real life applications such as keeping a checkbook, budgeting, earning and losing money, applying for a job, and more.  

To get started, I copy our "Class Cash" and do a different color paper for each increment.  I just use colored paper (Astrobrights is my favorite!) and I do not laminate...the students keep their money in their folders (checkbooks) and there is (hopefully) not a lot of exchanging of money so it really does stay in good shape, and it's a big time saver to skip the laminating!  

I also create a checkbook for each student; I use a two pocket folder with prongs.  In the prongs, I copy a checkbook register two sided and give each student a few copies of the register.  I also keep extras copies ready to go if a student needs an extra page, and by using the prongs, it is very easy to add on when needed!

I copy a wallet for each student and we assemble them together on the first day to hold on to their Class Cash.  And I copy a flipbook for students to use a reference and keep in their checkbooks.  I have these ready to go so students can assemble and keep in their checkbook as we go over each of the terms.

I decide the jobs for my class and depending on how many students I have, the jobs may vary.  I like to have one job for each student so that they can apply for the job that they'd like.  One very important job that does not change is the coveted job of the "Banker."  The job of the banker is truly how the class economy runs itself...the banker is in charge of collecting and handing out the money.  And trust me, students LOVE this job and are very honest when distributing and collecting the money.  Once the banker's job begins, I do not have to copy, cut, laminate, pass out, clip, count or anything...I only need to decide the deposits and withdraws that occur (and that is the easy part)!

The first week of school is always a lot of procedures and routines; setting up a successful class economy is no exception.  I introduce the students' checkbooks right on the first day...it is always VERY exciting!  Students love the idea of having money and cannot wait to start earning!  In the first week of school, I reward the whole class for smooth transitions, hallway behavior, names on their papers...any behavior that I'm excited to see in the first few days of school!  And by rewarding the whole class students can see the expectations that I have for those important procedures and that there is the opportunity to be rewarded.  And since the whole class is earning the Class Cash, we work on depositing the Class Cash in our checkbooks as a class.  

Just as I reward whole class behavior, I also take the opportunity to practice withdrawing money as a whole class as well.  I try to stick to withdrawing money as a class so that we can practice subtracting money but also so that students are learning together.

Making deposits and withdrawing money in the first week helps students learn how to use their checkbook but also is a great way to show the procedures and routines in the classroom.  I set the expectations high in the first week and it pays off for the rest of the year!

Throughout the first week we take a look at the different jobs, I model the jobs, and we decide on how much each job will be paid.  Some jobs are more work than others and DO deserve more pay.  Allowing students to take part in the salaries is important and also shows how just like in real life, jobs vary.  

I also have students pick out a few fun rewards that would be worth saving money for and also use a brochure to help teach about budgeting.  If students want to save to earn the special rewards, they must stick to a budget!


At the beginning of the second week of school, students are now familiar with the procedures and routines, they understand how to earn money and when money will be taken away, the also have an understanding of each of the classroom jobs, what a budget is, and how to save for special rewards.  At the beginning of the second week, I allow students to apply for jobs.  You can decide how long students will have their jobs for and be flexible as well!  One week may seem too short but a month too long; so see what works for you and your students!  


Once a month students have a "Market Day" and we discuss entrepreneurs, consumers, and marketing.  I choose a small group of students to be entrepreneurs and they create a proposal to sell something to the consumers.  Students choose a variety of projects and I always encourage something that will be within a reasonable budget and time period.  Some may make friendship bracelets, artwork, games, and more!  It is a great time for students to spend the money that they've earned and for the entrepreneurs to learn about the hard work of marketing and selling items.  


Laying the ground work in the first week helps the class economy run smoothly.  Students are then able to deposit and withdraw money on their own, they have everything organized in their checkbooks and can reference back to the important info they have when they need to.  The class economy now begins to work on its own with not much intervention needed!  
Happy Teaching!



You can find all of the materials that I use for a class economy and market day here!

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2 comments

  1. I really love how this is a class management system and a life lesson all in one! Students are able to learn real life situations that they can apply both now and later in life. I think this would definitely unite a class and help it to run more smoothly in the long run. How many years have you been using this system? I truly adore the effort you put into building this and can see how this would certainly be successful in a classroom!

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  2. informative post! I really like and appreciate your work, thank you for sharing such a useful facts and information about administering rewared system management strategies, keep updating the blog, hear i prefer some more information about jobs for your career hr jobs in hyderabad .

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