- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
- Balance their credits and debits
- Use a decision making model to make consumer decisions
- Practice making change to prepare for their turn as cashier for the class store
- Practice writing checks
- Credit and Debit Log (PDF)
- Blank Check Template (PDF)
- Shopping at the Class Store (PDF)
- Consumers Make Choices (PDF)
- Bank and store materials. Read articles "Setting Up a Class Store" and "How to Construct a Bank" to determine essential bank and store materials.
Set Up and Prepare
- Read articles "Setting Up a Class Store" and "How to Construct a Bank".
- Print Blank Check Template (PDF) and write checks to students.
- Copy new Credit and Debit Logs (PDF) for students to paste into their Credit and Debit Logbooks at the class bank.
- Make copies of the Shopping at the Class Store (PDF) worksheet.
- Make copies of the Consumers Make Choices (PDF) worksheet.
- Bring a checkbook to school and show students how adults keep track of their credits and debits as they spend money or use a debit card for daily purchases.
- Model how to calculate the total amount of money earned during a pay period (see Credit and Debit Notebook article).
- Ask students to report their earnings to the teacher.
- Since the students are employees of the teacher, the teacher will issue checks to the students to compensate them for their "work" during the pay period.
- Pass out blank copies of checks that are already signed by the teacher. Use the Blank Check Template (PDF). Each student will complete his or her own check just for this first week so that he or she becomes familiar with the different parts of a check. (In the future, a payroll clerk can issue checks at the end of each pay period. This can be a "paid" classroom job.)
- Introduce students to the bank teller job. Students will be taking their checks to the bank on shopping days. The bank teller will pay students the amount of money indicated on the check and give students a new log sheet to paste into their Credit and Debit Log Book. Read the "How to Construct a Class Bank" article.
- Introduce the job of cashier. Brainstorm students' prior knowledge of a cashier's duties, drawing on their experiences at the mall, the grocery store, etc. (This is likely to be a very desirable job in the classroom economy.)
- Practice adding multiple items and making change. It is important that consumers are able to add up their purchases, but it is essential that the cashier is able to make change when customers do not have correct bills. Use the Shopping at the Class Store (PDF) worksheet or create your own examples using items from your own class store.
- Before students shop for the first time, allow all students to preview the class store to determine items they would like to purchase.
- Instruct students to keep track of items they like, along with the items' prices, on the Consumers Make Choices (PDF) printable as they browse the store inventory.
- Discuss the concept of making choices. Students will complete the Consumers Make Choices worksheet to determine what they will buy at the store.
- Invite students to share their consumer decisions and explain how they made their final decisions about what to buy.
- Open the class store and bank for official business. (In my classroom, students shop twice a week. I chose a banker and a cashier based on "good character" requirements. All other students are working independently on an assigned task. The banker calls students to the bank, cashes their checks, gives them a new credit and debit log, and sends them to the store to shop.)
Supporting All Learners
Providing students with a teacher-created model of the decision-making worksheet will help all students to understand the task better when completing Part 3 of the lesson.
Local stores and banks are often more than happy to allow students to visit for class field trips. These types of field trips provide students with an authentic opportunity to learn about the daily operations at banks and retail stores while also studying the economic impact the stores have on the local community.
Invite parents who have jobs in banking, retail, or other related occupations to visit the classroom to talk about their jobs. Enlist parents to help you plan and organize field trips to businesses where the students can learn more about daily operations.
- Complete the Shopping at the Class Store (PDF) worksheet.
- Complete the Consumers Make Choices (PDF) worksheet.
- Balance credits and debits at the end of the pay period.
- How well is your credit and debit system working?
- Were your students able to balance their credits and debits?
- Are your students excited about their roles in the classroom economy?
- What worked well during the first shopping day?
- What will you change before your students visit the class bank and class store next time?
You can assess students' work on the worksheets, and you should monitor their first time calculating their earnings to make sure that they are able to balance their credits and debits. Each week the bank teller, the cashier, and the students shopping at the store can be informally assessed to determine their ability to add prices of store items, count money, and make correct change.