The third graders I am working with are learning about counting money and making change. Since I am new to using Euros, I am learning right along with them which is fun! There are 1 Euro and 2 Euro coins which is taking some getting used to. The smallest amount of paper money is worth 5 Euros. The teachers both use a reward system where the kids earn coins for being prepared, being good listeners, and other positive behaviors. They keep their coins in a little Ziplock bag which are called Toppits here and they can trade in their coins for bills or "notes" when they have enough. For certain incidences, students get fined, however I have only seen that happen once. At certain points during the year, the kids can cash in the money they have earned for certain prizes. Some of the things they can choose are having lunch with their teacher, having lunch with the principal, sitting next to a friend for the day, a popcorn party, a free choice period, or a chance to select something from the prize box. The prizes are all priced differently and the students are allowed to pool their money together if they want to get a large prize such as the popcorn party.
I really like this reward system. In my classroom, I would have had to be concerned about particular students stealing money from other students, however this is not an issue. The students are told that thier money is their own responsibility and they should keep it in a safe place. If the money gets lost, they have to start from scratch. Not only do they learn the value of money and saving, but they also practice responsibility and good behavior. Seems like a good deal to me.
I keep thinking about whether or not this would work with first graders. I know that they still struggle with identifying coins, yet perhaps if the money was being used in this way there would be a greater motivation to master those skills because they would not be able to obtain a prize without counting their money and knowing how much they had to spend. I think that it could work and I think it would really help to reinforce the importance of taking responsibility for one's own items because that is something first graders are still trying to learn to manage!
Have you ever used a system like this? Did it work for you?