How to Implement a Classroom Economy with Bunnell Elementary

Posted by:
Jamie L., Heidi B., and Melissa I.
4 minute read
"Each time I visit the classrooms using ClassBank (formerly ClassEquity) at Bunnell Elementary I was impressed with the student engagement while learning financial literacy.  The students learn real-life skills, for example, saving and spending classroom money responsibly, while creating a positive classroom culture. The students are quick to tell you all about their experience using ClassBank That speaks volumes hearing the enthusiasm in their voices." - Maria M., District Tech Coordinator

What is a classroom economy? 

A classroom economy combines positive reinforcement frameworks, such as Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports (PBIS), with financial literacy skills as students learn to earn, save, and spend classroom dollars. It builds upon the traditional points-based reward system by empowering students to become contributing members of their classroom community, while practicing life skills such as budgeting, goal setting, and delayed gratification through experience.

Heidi, Jamie, and Melissa from Bunnell Elementary share how they upgraded their school's Buster Buck's system using ClassBank (formerly ClassEquity) to increase student engagement, promote responsibility, and build community, while preparing their students with 21st century skills.

Why use a classroom economy? 

  • Reinforce positive behaviors
  • Target specific actions
  • Increase student responsibility and accountability
  • Create a positive class environment
  • Empower students to become contributing members of the community
  • Teach real world skills in an applicable and fun way
  • Students feel responsible and are encouraged to go above and beyond
  • Students are engaged and validated in their efforts

How to implement a classroom economy


Jamie, Heidi, and Melissa align bonuses with PBIS and classroom values. As part of the district’s “Capturing Kid’s Hearts” initiative, each classroom a created social contract (lesson plan idea here). “Following social contract” has been the most used bonus in Jamie and Heidi’s classrooms this year, allowing them to hold their students accountable and target specific behaviors.

Classroom bonus ideas: 

  • Following social contract
  • Showing teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Great hallway behavior
  • Staying organized

Tip: Create bonuses and fines WITH your students to increase student accountability and ownership.


Fines are completely optional, so if they don’t mesh with your school culture, feel free to omit them. Melissa shared that she only uses fines after providing a verbal warning to the student. Heidi shared that her students actually asked her to increase fine values because they helped the class stay on track.

Classroom fine ideas (if you use them):

  • Breaking social contract
  • Line issue
  • Messy / Not organized
  • IPAD not charged / not here
  • Lunch & recess issue

Tips:  If you do choose to use fines, make sure you are sticking to a 5:1 positivity ratio of bonuses to fines (with ClassBank you can easily monitor your positivity ratio).


"Students have jobs and apply for them. We have never been fans of classroom jobs, as they are often hard to keep up with. However, with ClassBank, its so easy! They all do their jobs at the end of the day and we ended up keeping the same jobs all year because they loved being the ‘experts’. Students are paid $100 per day…if they are here. If they are not, they are not paid. This has helped with attendance for some that were prone to ‘take a day off here and there’. They dont want to miss school because they want their money!" - Heidi

Classroom job ideas:

Tips: Start small by implementing a “Student” job, as that is their main job of course! Turn on auto-pay so that salaries are sent automatically. When you are ready, you can add in bonus jobs for students to apply to, giving them additional leadership and responsibility opportunities in your classroom. Jamie and Heidi shared that once they got their classroom jobs up and started, their classrooms have truly run themselves this year!


"Students have to pay bills, so it balances wants and needs. It’s really making them realize, 'I have to pay my rent, I have to pay electricity in the school before I buy (a stylus, headphones or a treat)." - Jamie

Classroom bill ideas: 

Tip: Turn on auto expense for bills, choosing either weekly, biweekly or monthly.


"A lot of the things they are buying are things I would make them do anyway. One of the coupons they can buy is “Take a 2 minute vacation” - and sometimes I just slide that coupon to a student that needs it. This is what makes me happy- when I’m sliding him a coupon because he needs to be able to take a 2 whenever, the other students just assume he bought it from the store so he’s not being called out. And, they have an opportunity to buy it from the store if they want to save up for it!"  - Melissa

Classroom store ideas: 

Tip: "I created an Amazon Wish List for some store items and shared it with the parents. They sent items for the store and it worked out great." -Jamie

ClassBank's Impact at Bunnell

Student calculating his new account balance

Improving student self-regulation

“A huge helper has been the cha-ching sound,” Jamie shared. When students hear the cha-ching sound of a classmate getting a bonus, “I don’t even have to say a word..they get right back on task. It’s magic!”  Heidi added, “I like to follow it up with, ‘thank you Olivia, for being on task and focused…’ or whatever behavior I want to reinforce. It works…the others immediately check themselves!”

Increasing student responsibility (and making teacher's lives easier!) 

After visiting the classroom, Maria M., the district's Tech Coordinator, shared how evident the classroom culture was. "Teachers don’t have to stress at the end of the school day," Maria shared. "Tables are being wiped. Testing used to be a struggle- did everyone bring their ipads? are they all charged?- but now students are in charge of that! It almost pays teachers in that sense!"

"I used to have a huge problem with students loosing pencils, and them ending up the floor. So, I put them in the store, and it completely solved the problem! Students get one pencil at the start of each month, and if they loose it, they need to purchase one from the store. Students are learning the value of their items, and are even supporting one another in sharing their pencils with students who may need one." -Heidi

Improving PBIS

"Last year was a different animal for sure. The incentives were getting lost. Using this platform this year, the students who are doing what they are supposed to be doing are being recognized instead of flying under the radar, along with the students who may need a little extra love. I’m doing a better job this year recognizing student effort because it’s pretty much done for me with ClassBank." -Melissa

Reinforcing math skills

When students receive a transaction, they are responsible for doing the math to update their account balance. Melissa, Jamie, and Heidi all shared that used decimals in their transactions to reinforce 4th and 5th grade math standards. “I waited until we had gone through the decimal unit,” Melissa shared, “and once students saw the decimals in the fines and the store they were like WHAT!” Students are engaged because they see the real-world application of the math they are learning. After visiting a 2nd grade classroom, Maria shared she's never seen students so excited to add and subtract! Extension lessons include practicing percentages with interest and taxes, positive and negative integers, order of operations, and word problems including deposits and withdraws, to name a few.

Teaching financial literacy through experience

In addition to math reinforcement, ClassBank (formerly ClassEquity) helps break down financial literacy standards, such as needs vs. wants and interest, into an applicable format. Melissa’s favorite “aha” moments she sees is when students begin to think “I really want to buy a piece of candy but I know I have to pay rent next I have to save up my money.” Melissa takes ClassBank one step further and even allows her students to purchase their desk so that they no longer have to pay rent. “At first, only one student saved up to purchase his desk, and all the other students bragged about being able to purchase items in the store. Now, he gets to buy things all the time, and all the other students started saving up to buy their desks as well! One student even exclaimed, 'I have to teach my mom!' With financial literacy, it’s all those aha moments. It’s such a great seed to plant.”

A huge thank you to Jamie, Heidi, and Melissa for sharing their stories and being such great ClassBank (formerly ClassEquity) advocates! If you have any questions about how you could implement a classroom economy in your class, feel free to sign up for a quck 15 minute demo here!