A Classroom Economy System Your Students Will Love

Take charge of your classroom management with a classroom economy system

Do you sometimes struggle with finding a successful positive reinforcement system that gets your students excited? I did too until I found that my students went BANANAS over a classroom economy system! Add in some 'Funny Bucks' and some coupons that they LOVE, and voila... I had a classroom management system that the students could get behind!!! I see 5 science classes a day, which adds up to around 110 fourth graders passing through my classroom daily!!! I needed a way to get these students in and out of my classroom efficiently while teaching science to these kiddos!!! NOT an easy task... Students can earn 'Funny Bucks' by doing various tasks around the classroom or by working together in their group (and being the top points earner each week - stay tuned to see how I incorporate group cooperation into my classroom management). Let's take a peek at each aspect of the classroom economy system that I use:
First, I use classroom money called 'Funny Bucks.' I usually give students a $5 bill or a $10 bill depending on the worthiness of the task. Before school started, I made a ton of copies of the $5 and $10 on colored copy paper. You could make the copies on cardstock and laminate them if you'd like; but I found that it's easier for me to just recycle the money during the year - more on this below.
I also had to make lots of copies of the coupons as well. I tried to make enough copies that would last the entire year. Here's just a few of the reward coupons I use that works with my classroom situation:
Roughly once a month I 'OPEN THE STORE' as my students call it! That means I pull out the coupons so the students can buy whatever coupon they can with their money. I had to come up with a solution so that all of those 110 students weren't rummaging through all of my coupons... Can you imagine the MESS?!?! Before school started, I assigned each coupon a price. My method to pricing was very simple... when a student used a coupon, if it was A LOT of work for me then that coupon had a high price tag. The cost of the coupon was based on the amount of work I needed to put in to honor that coupon! It's all about convenience and efficiency for us teachers!!! After I decided on a cost for each coupon, I made five copies of each one on colored cardstock, wrote the price on each one, and laminated them. Then, I cut them out, punched a hole, and put them on a book ring. I made 5 sets of coupons so that multiple students could 'shop' at the same time. Below are just two samples that the students look at to decide which coupon they want to buy:
Once the students decide which coupon they want, I find the coupon in my organizer and we exchange money for coupon. The students can use the coupon any time they want as long as it's all right with their teachers (since they have FIVE teachers). Here's a few of the more popular coupons this year: This $5 coupon lets a student choose one item from my reward drawer.
I haven't spent a single dime on supplying my 'Reward Drawer.' I have two drawers in my classroom that has books and trinkets (AKA junk)... one drawer contains books that my son decided he didn't want anymore as well as free Scholastic books that I get with my orders. The other drawer has 'stuff' in it that I collect throughout the year as well as 'stuff' from my son's hoarder collection... HE HE... This photo shows my son's hoarder status... This is actually a newer picture when his drawers HAD been 'CLEANED OUT'...
I LOVE my son to the moon and back... but I CANNOT stand his hoarding!!! So, all of the wonderful items he doesn't want anymore are donated to the classroom reward drawer. It has saved me a ton of money, and my students go batty when I restock.
The next popular coupon allows students to take off their shoes in class. Again, it's up to the discretion of each teacher, but most of our 4th grade teachers honor the coupons when the students want to use them. I gave this one a value of $5 because I really don't have to DO anything, except allow students to use it!!
This 'Technology Time' coupon is VERY popular... most of the time when the students use this, they want to get on the computer. I think most of the games that they want to play require Flash, or they are easier to play on the computer.
This next coupon is extremely popular with the girls... AND some boys as well. Students LOVE being able to bring stuffed animals to school with them. They will take their cute, beat up, old stuffed animal to every class... It's so nice for your kiddos to be able to bring a piece of home with them to school.
I'm not a huge fan of this next coupon, but my students seem to LOVE it!!! This coupon is PERFECT for independent work. However, being a science teacher, I don't have my students do a great deal of independent work. The students are either working in their groups completing an activity or working through an investigation. That doesn't provide a lot of time for listening to music on their phone, iPod, or the like. But, I still offer it because there are times in other classes when they'll be able to use this coupon.
I am ALWAYS looking for ways to save money on gifts for my students. This past Christmas, I got smart... I always get my students a book from Scholastic, but I couldn't think of something else that was good, yet cheap. As I was brainstorming other gift ideas, I received a sign from up above (just kidding... what I meant to say was... my brain started working)!! Why not pick a coupon that my students will love and give that to them as part of the gift?!?!? Those are FREE!!! You can't get much cheaper than that!! So, I copied the coupon on special paper and wrote a special message on each one! THEY LOVED IT!!! It was like I had given them a thousand dollars!!! I have to admit, having students sit at my teacher desk is a pain, because WELL... my desk is rarely clean!!! That's why the price to buy the coupon is so much!!! 
In the end, I saved a lot of money by not buying my students another gift and instead giving them a coupon that they loved. Everyday the students would rush into class in the morning to give me that coupon to sit at MY desk for the day. My policy was first come, first served... They felt SO special sitting at my desk while they were in the classroom. 
The next coupon is the by far the MOST popular... 
The students LOVE eating lunch in the classroom with a friend. Every Tuesday, the 4th grade teacher across the hall from me and I allow students to eat lunch in the classroom with a friend if they have a pass to do so! When the students finish eating lunch, they can play on a computer with their buddy. 

Just one more tip: In order to save paper, I choose to recycle the 'Funny Bucks' and coupons. Any time a student uses a coupon or pays me, I put them back in my drawer to use next time.  That recycling has saved me quite a few copies and loads of colored paper.

These are just a FEW of the many coupons from which students can choose! This classroom economy system is a great way to influence positive behavior in the classroom while teaching students that you have to WORK hard to see REWARDS!! If you'd like to snag this classroom economy system, click on the photo directly below:

Take charge of your classroom management with a classroom economy system! Check out my blog post on how I use 'Funny Bucks' and coupons to motivate students to make good choices.

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