Using a Classwide Money System

I hope you are all enjoying, enjoyed, or will enjoy really soon, your spring break! I cannot believe it's already April {mostly}. I wanted to share with you how I use a money system in my classroom. I have used this system all 4 years that I've been teaching. It was something that I learned from my cooperating teacher during student teaching and with a few tweaks each year, it works great!  I do teach special education, but regular educators, don't despair! I've included some ways that you can use a money system too!
 


Tips and tricks for teachers to implement a classroom money system
I hope you are all enjoying, enjoyed, or will enjoy really soon, your spring break! I cannot believe it's already April {mostly}. I wanted to share with you how I use a money system in my classroom. I have used this system all 4 years that I've been teaching. It was something that I learned from my cooperating teacher during student teaching and with a few tweaks each year, it works great!  I do teach special education, but regular educators, don't despair! I've included some ways that you can use a money system too!

First, you need to know that this system is tied in with my tracker system. Basically, students use a behavior tracker that focuses on 4 target behaviors and is filled out by the teacher, para or peer tutor that works with the student each class period. You can read more details about my tracker system here.



How do they earn the money?
After a student gets his tracker filled out, the teacher/para/peer tutor pays the student $1 for each point earned (for a maximum of $4 per class period).

What can they use the money for?
Free Time: Students then spend the last 10 minutes of each class engaged in "free" time. Students can choose a game or activity if they earned it. This 10 minutes is a perfect time to practice peer interaction, social skills, good sportsmanship, and independent leisure skills. This also gives us staff a time to toilet, give snacks, and take a quick potty break ourselves. Most free time activities cost money, depending on their level of demand. Here is a picture of my free time choice board and free time menu. This is where the majority of students earned class money goes. 

Free time repeats throughout the day at the end of each class period. This may seem like a lot of down time, but as I stated before, there is a lot going on in the 10 minute block. Also, it gives my regular education peer tutors a chance to circle and get to know all the students, as they are assigned to work with only 1-2 per quarter. 

Class Store: At the end of the day before getting on the bus, free time is replaced with our classroom store. Students that earned it count the rest of their money and can purchase an item from the class store. I limit it to one item per day. They can choose from pencils to candy to toys to bathroom passes. They keep the rest of their money ( if they have any) for the next day and on Friday, we clean out any remaining money and start the next week off broke. 


What if you teach regular education or don't use trackers? 
You could easily tie a money system into your already established classroom rules and/or behavior management system.  For example, if you use a clip chart, at the end of each subject/class period or at the end of the day, students who are on the highest level of the clip chart earn the most money, subtracting $1 for each level.  Or if you use group points in your classroom, the group with the most points at the end of the day each earn a certain dollar amount, subtracting $1 for the runner up and so on.

You could even use a money system as random positive behavior reinforcement.  For example, pull money out when you are praising students who are on task or following the classroom rules.  Or tie it in with Class Dojo and award $1 for each point throughout the day, etc.  Students could be even paid a set amount for completing a daily or weekly job.  I've seen tons of classroom economy ideas on Pinterest.

How do they lose money?
I have yet to implement a response cost aspect it this system, in which students can lose money for undesirable behavior, as it hasn't been necessary. However, using a response cost can be a very effective tool for students that need the next level of intervention. Students do have to use their money to pay for new school supplies {read about my pencil plan here} or to go to the restroom during class. 

A few other ideas for implementation:

  • My first year I had students that had moderate disabilities and spend a great part of the day in general education. I assigned a weekly banker whose as responsible for exchanging $1 bills for larger bills. This was a great money management skill and it kept our wallets from bursting at the seams with $1 bills. 
  • You could dive deeper into money management by teaching students to track their credits and debits to their wallets with a simple account ledger.  This would be especially helpful if the student understood the benefit of saving money.
  • Instead of using bills, use coins!  This is great practice for younger students to identify coins and their value and to learn to count coins.

There are so many ways to use class money in your classroom!  It's such an amazing way to naturally teach money management, budgeting and economics.  The most important thing is that when giving money, just like with any reinforcement system, that you pair it with specific feedback.  Students need to know what they are doing well to earn the money!

Do you use a money system in your classroom?  Do you have questions?  Please leave a comment!

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