Classroom Cash Motivation System

Are you looking for a great motivation system to use in your classroom? Some form of classroom currency or cash to spend at a class store and auction is a great tool to have in your teacher toolbox. As a motivation/reward system for students, a class store and auction can be both an incentive and also allow them to take part in a real-world economic activity. Reward systems such as this can have positive effects when used on a regular basis with students throughout the year. Each day students earn cash for everything from good behavior to scores on work and assessments. At the end of each week, students can spend their Class Cash at the Class Store or they can save up for the end of the grading period when they will participate in an auction by bidding on a variety of items.

How to Start:

Start by collecting items to use in the class store and the auction. The store can be filled with small things that students would like: pencils, erasers, notepads, chips, juice boxes, granola bars, small trinkets from the dollar store.  
At grade level meetings or open house, ask parents to donate things that kids would like. The Dollar Tree and Dollar General stores carry many items that students would want, and you can buy them for very little money. My husband and I love to visit garage sales on Saturdays and you would be amazed at what you can find that kids will love. Things I have used in the past have been books, posters, comics, baseball cards, Hot Wheels, Happy Meal Toys, marker sets, etc. You can also try asking for free coupons from fast food and local restaurants, and promotional items like water bottles and key chains from businesses. One thing I like to use is reward coupons for things that won't cost me anything (No Homework, Extra Computer Time, Sit with a Friend, etc.) Click these links to see the Rock Star Owl Reward Coupons or Wild Jungle Reward Coupons that I have in my TPT store.

Introduction Lesson:

Introduce the reward system with a lesson on economics which includes earning, saving and spending money. Explain the structure and criteria of earning the Classroom Cash and how it can be spent. Cash can be old Monopoly game money from garage sale finds, printed cash like I used below, or any other type of money you create. Be sure to cover guidelines for organizing and storing their money. Some teachers like to create a bank where students can deposit their money until it is needed. Students would then need to keep accounting of how much they have stored in the bank. Other teachers let students keep their money in zip top bags or pencil pouches in their desk. Students must be responsible for keeping track of their money.

Classroom Store:

Cash can be spent weekly at the classroom store. The last 15-20 minutes of the day on Friday, you can open the store for students to buy items. It is easy to store the items in baskets and set the baskets out on a table to let students choose. Be sure to give prices so they know how much the items cost. Some teachers choose to only hold the classroom store once a grading period. So, students get to save up their money and spend it all on report card day at the class store.

Live Auction:

At the end of the six weeks, or other specified time period, you can hold an auction. Explain the auction process to students. Let them know about auction items a day or two before the actual auction. Some teachers leave items out on a shelf throughout the six weeks to remind students what they are bidding on. This allows students to save up money if there is an item they really want. Bidding for each item will start at $1. The bidding continues with increments of $1 to $5. The item is won when the bidding has stopped. After the auction is over, ask students what they learned about auctions from the experience and what they might do differently for the next auction. Students are able to learn valuable lessons about supply and demand and saving versus spending.

Silent Auction:

You may also want to try to change things up and hold a silent auction.  Set up your items on a table or shelf.  Each item has it's own bid sheet and students are able to bid and outbid each other to get the items they most desire. The items can be set out throughout the day for students to place bids when they are finished with work or during lunch and recess. The auction should have an exact ending time where you pick up all the bid sheets and collect cash from the winners.

I hope this motivation system will work well in your classroom.  For other ideas on classroom management, click this link to the Back to School Classroom Organization blog post.

Until Next Time.....


  1. I adore the idea of economy and savings in primary grades. Might make my secondary students (and children) better savers.

    Kovescence of the Mind