What to stock in your classroom shop
I have previously discussed the value and the process of setting up a classroom economy, today I am going to look at the things to stock in your classroom shop!
I am a big believer in spending little to no money on classroom rewards. There are already so many things we can provide our children with that, we don’t need to buy constant items to give as rewards.
There is an interesting concept on motivation created by Gabe Zichermann called the SAPS triangle
It explains the things that motivate people in order of least to most motivating.
At the bottom of the triangle is Stuff – tangible items that we hold in our hands. This has been found to be the least motivating.
Next on the triangle we have power – Power relates to control. Giving people, including children the power over their own lives and the lives of others is very motivating. This is more powerful than stuff as a motivational tool.
Higher on the triangle is Access – Access to experiences that are enjoyable and not openly available to everyone else. VIP treatment if you like.
And right at the top of the pyramid we have status. Status is very motivating for people, recognition and appreciation of efforts and achievements is incredibly motivating.
So you can see the rewards we give to our kids don’t have to cost anything. Right at the bottom of the pyramid is our items that are paid for. The others can be things you create in your classroom.
So let’s take a look at some of these things now.
Simple classroom rewards
Let’s start simply, when first starting out with classroom economy you don’t want to confuse yourself by going in too complicated.
When deciding on what to offer your class as purchasable items think in 3 broad terms.
Firstly – Look at the things you are giving your class for free that you could charge for: Do they listen to music while independently studying? Let this be a reward for purchase. Toilet passes are another good one. I keep these quite low in price and going to the bathroom before and after class is free of course, but in the middle of lessons requires a purchased toilet pass. When children have to weigh up whether to spend their tokens or points on going to the bathroom a lot them surprisingly develop the ability to wait until transition time. This is taking away the request for a bathroom break and actually putting the decision onto them, they can of course decide to go to the bathroom during lessons but it will cost them. This decision making ability gives them autonomy and power the third tier of the pyramid.
Secondly you want to let them purchase things that makes the your life as a teacher easier. The things that students want to do that are frustrating and annoying can now cost them money. Students that forget items from their bags or lockers can buy locker passes. This type of reward again puts the control in the hands of the students.
Lastly when deciding on items to include in your shop remember to think of things which will allow the students to fix mistakes. Homework passes, score / grade bump ups, get out of jail cards that can be used on a variety of mistakes made.
Other items you could make available include:
Letting the student be called by a different name for the day or week. I wouldn’t suggest longer than this as it takes the novelty out of it. But if they want it for longer they can always purchase an addition name change pass with more points.
If you have assigned jobs for the children in your classroom you can let them choose to change or pick their assigned job.
Going first pass – this can be applied to all kinds of areas of school life, first in line, first out to break, first assignment to be marked, I’m sure the kids can think of others.
Skip this one pass – let them skip a particular lesson or assignment – I usually make this a read instead type of reward you don’t want them wandering aimlessly.
Lunch with teacher – buying lunch with you can be a great item to add into your shop and it is always a fun experience
Print it pass – Let the kids print off a set number of pages, you can even combine this with a laminator pass, I don’t know why kids love printing and laminating but I do too!
The mystery box – this is a great one to add in to the shop as you get to decide what it turns out to be depending on when and who purchases it. The freedom it gives you as a teacher is great
These are just a few ideas and when starting your classroom economy it is great to sit down with the kids and discuss the objects they think should be in the shop.
More advanced shopping experience
As you become more comfortable with the classroom economy you can branch out into more advanced ideas.
Avatars are a great way to get your kids excited about the ideas of class economy as well as gives you more options for items. An avatar is the character that looks after their money or points. You can easily create bitmojis of your kids and use these as their characters. This shows up on screen to show them how much they have earnt, can be printed onto the headings of anything you give out that is personalised and are great to use as identifiers on desks and equipment.
In terms of items to buy, you can have the kids’ avatars change their clothes, the kids can buy them accessories like hats, or sunglasses or even cars! Spending their earnt points in this way is fun and also gives them a lasting item after it has been purchased.
Something else that works very nicely with classes is the ideas of teams or groups. Allow the children to collectively make purchases as a team. You can award the points to the team kitty or pot as well as allowing the students to put their own individually earned points into the team bank.
Purchasing items as a team allows for teamwork, negotiation skills and opens up a whole area of purchases that can be added to your stock. Think about the kind of community sports teams encourage, this is no different.
During shopping hour the students can sit in their groups, discuss the items they will purchase and work out aspects of their team identity. Some popular team items include: Changing the team name – you can set the names as something very generic such as team 1 team 2 and if they choose to purchase a new name they can. New names will of course need to be approved, I strongly suggest checking urban dictionary before you approve a name and aren’t caught out… the phrase shocka for example has meanings I knew nothing about… I don’t recommend googling. You can allow teams to design and create group flags or emblems to be hung in the classroom, the creation of these would be an item in itself but coupled with materials (buttons, rope etc.) they will need to purchase to level up their designs.
In the reverse you can have a highly priced item that allows groups to change another group’s name! This needs to be handled carefully and with the right group of students but it can be a lot of fun.
A popular shop item I have used is short presentations, allow the groups to present something to the rest of the class for a set number of minutes. Letting them take the floor and then purchasing extra minutes are all great items.
On a bigger scale from the groups, you can choose to let the class pool their points and buy rewards, some ideas for this type of item might include:
Playing music out loud while working
A pizza party
Or a very expensive one might be to change a lesson (from history to free choosing)
If you decide to have whole class items you will need to set ground rules for purchase. Everyone has to put in the same amount and agree to the item. If they don’t it will not be fair.
Before we leave it there I would like to talk quickly about pricing your shop items. If in doubt go higher than you think. It is too easy to get carried away and give out loads of points when the class is being amazing and have them go wild in the shop. Expensive things require the kids to save up (or work together) and if you are feeling generous you can always throw a flash sale or even let them earn a special 10% off bonus point for something extra special. It is easier to put prices down than raise them!
Creating a classroom economy is a great way to build a classroom community, it improves behaviour and it teaches kids a whole range of skills. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.