Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Classroom Economy: Day Three

Here we are, in part three of the series on a Classroom Economy.  If you missed what to do on Day One or Day Two, just go read them and come back.  I will be waiting here for you.  :)

Day Three:

Today, the focus is on expenses and fines.  Students are ALWAYS curious about this part, and holding them off until the third day of school is sometimes hard.  However, I really want to focus on the positive, so I tend to keep this part on the back burner for a little bit.  On the first few days of school, the kids are usually in the honeymoon phase.  They are very well behaved and on-task, so keeping the fines discussion until day three generally tends to be OK.

By this point, they have *seen* the expenses and fines.  I have them posted in my classroom and they are on the Register Cards I give them.  But I haven't actually explained them in full detail (other than in the overview on day one, when I skim through it.)

So we start off, of course, with reviewing how to enter money into the register.  They have earned $1 for coming to school on time, so I make sure that they have entered that.  We then do a quick count of our money.  I want them to make sure that their cash in hand is the same as their register total.

Trying to keep a little more on the "positive" side, I tend to start in more detail with the expenses.  Here is where I talk about RENT.  Yes.  My students pay rent to me.  Just like I can't live in a house without paying my mortgage, they can't live in my classroom with out paying rent.

Now, I purposefully make the rent rather low.  They can earn the total amount for their rent in a week (between the earning and their classroom jobs.)  I don't want them to be struggling.  BUT I do want them to feel as if their money is being used for something.  So when they see $8 for Desk Rental, you better believe their eyes bug out just a bit!

I then point to the school supply expenses.  Specifically, the Text Book Rental.  Again, by now, I have been doling out money like CRAZY!  I make sure that all of my students have a ton of money.  The reason is that I now take their first expense.  They need to pay me to rent their text books for the year.  It is a flat fee of $10 for all the books.  So the students take out their registers and wallets, and we go through the very first collection of money. 

I show them how to input this into their register (the description line would be "text book rental" and then a subtraction sign goes in the debt section.)

Then, we talk about fines.  Unlike the Earnings, ALL of them are cut and dry.  The reason for this is simple.  I want my students to know *exactly* what it is that I expect out of them in class.  If I write, "Messy Desk....$1.50" they know they can not have a messy desk or they will get fined.  But if I am ambiguous and write, "Doing bad things.....varies", the students don't know what behaviors I am expecting of them.  So for the fines, I like to be as explicit as possible. 

Once we have reviewed all of the various fines, we talk about how they really are easy to avoid.  The kids can easily do all of their homework.  Of course they won't damage materials.  Putting their names on papers?  Easy to do!

It is the bathroom one that always gets the most hands.  I simply explain to them that if they always have $5 in their wallet, they won't have a problem at.all.  And, to be honest, it really is a non-issue.  The kids get it.  They keep $5 in their wallets and whenever they have to go to the bathroom, they simply bring it up to me and go.  No big deal on  my end.  No big deal on their end.  Really.  Honestly.  I promise you.

Again, this only works if you are actually GIVING OUT money too.  So stick with the positive and continue to give out money like water in these first few days of school.

One trick I have is to just keep money in your pocket.  When you walk by someone doing good, place the money on the desk without even saying anything and move on.  The kids quietly take out their register, enter it, and move on.  It takes all of a minute once you have the routine in place. 

OK...so now that everything is basically introduced, I take Day Four and introduce the classroom jobs.  I have actually already written about them, so you are in luck!  Go to this post here to read all about how I manage the jobs!

What questions do you have for me now?


  1. Where do you buy your play money? Also, how much of each bill do you keep?

    1. I got my money from Lakeshore. I have about 3 tubs of it (it comes in a whole huge set) and have actually only opened one of the tubs. I did have some coin pieces from math manipulatives that were being discarded by a lower grade teacher that I throw in too. Coins ALWAYS get lost, so I needed a huge refill supply of them.

    2. Thank you! I will have to look for it!

  2. I am excited (a little nervous about it being "simple") to get this started. Thank you for all the details. I called my local credit union to see if they will help out with some of the cost, so keep fingers crossed for a positive response. Thanks again for all the ideas and helpful material.

  3. I LOVE this! I've been wanting to incorporate something like this into my classroom. How do students know what to write in their register when you're handing out money throughout the day? Are you stopping and talking to them each time? Same for fines/debits? How do you take their money away when they get a fine? Thank you SO much!

  4. What a great series! I’m sharing this post on my #TrendingInMath feature tomorrow!

    Math Coach’s Corner

  5. I love this!!! Such a fun and important lesson. I would love to pin this post. Do you grant "permission to pin?"

    Got to Teach!

    1. Of course! You may pin anything you want, ever, from my blog :)


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