Experiencing economics
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Experiencing Economics. Building Blocks to Creating a Token Economy in Your School. How Can We “Experience” Economics?. We can create a simulation of real-world experiences to be used throughout the school year. Step # 1.

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Experiencing Economics

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Experiencing economics

Experiencing Economics

Building Blocks to Creating a Token Economy in Your School


How can we experience economics

How Can We “Experience” Economics?

We can create a simulation of real-world experiences to be used throughout the school year.


Step 1

Step # 1

Have a discussion with your students about needs and wants and what we do to obtain them.


Experiencing economics

  • True needs are relatively few (food, clothing, shelter, water)

Wants areunlimited


Experiencing economics

Needs and Wants do overlap


Experiencing economics

We obtain our needs and wants by exchanging our labor for them. Typically, this means we have a job, and we are paid a salary.


Experiencing economics

Step #2

Set up a classroom or school-wide system in which being a student becomes their job

  • Create a list of responsibilities

  • Create a wage scale

  • Establish accountability for failure to comply with the requirements.


Experiencing economics

Step #3

  • Pay your Students/Employees “money” in exchange for a designated activity.

  • The “money” is created in the classroom and has no value outside of the school.

  • Students are given an opportunity to spend their “money” as a way to give it real value to them.


Goals of a token economy

Goals of a Token Economy

  • To simulate “real-world” economic experiences, creating a classroom safety valve wherein students can experiment and learn from their mistakes without suffering long-term consequences.

  • To instill good habits

  • To motivate students in all academic endeavors

  • To help students gain the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of economics

  • To prepare students to be responsible, contributing citizens as they mature.


Why use incentives to promote positive behavior

Why use Incentives to Promote Positive Behavior?

Students adapt their behavior over time to correspond to the student skills which are rewarded. It is important to think carefully about the traits and work ethic you are trying to instill.


The costs and benefits of implementing a token economy

The Costs and Benefits of Implementing a Token Economy

  • The initial stage is teacher-intensive.

  • It requires planning and reflection before you begin.

  • It uses significant class time in the beginning.


There are significant benefits too

There are significant benefits, too!

  • Once established, it runs smoothly.

  • A token economy integrates easily into the rest of the curriculum.

  • It improves student learning.

  • It helps students learn to manage money.

  • It helps motivate students.


Using a building block approach

Using a Building Block Approach

  • Divide a token economy into blocks that can be implemented incrementally.

  • Don’t rush to add additional layers – wait until you are comfortable with it.

  • Flexibility is key.


A key to success

A Key to Success

  • Front-load with non-economic concepts and terminology

  • Back-load with economic terms and concepts


Keystone economic principles

Keystone Economic Principles

  • We all make choices.

  • All choices have costs.

  • All choices have consequences.

  • Economic systems influence choices.

  • Incentives produce “predictable” responses.

  • Do what you do best and trade for the rest.

  • Economic thinking is marginal thinking.

  • Quantity and quality of resources impact living standards.

  • Prices are determined by the market forces of supply and demand and are constantly changing.


Building blocks of a token economy

Building Blocks of a Token Economy

  • I-A. Establishing your token economy

  • I-B. Understanding the economic concepts

  • II. Utilizing banking activities

  • III. Additional activities for earning money

  • IV. Additional activities for spending money

  • V. Market Days


Experiencing economics

  • Some tips to make your token economy work more smoothly:


Transfer as much decision making to your students as you are comfortable with

Some Tips to Make Your Token Economy Run More Smoothly:

Transfer as much decision-making to your students as you are comfortable with.

  • Encourage students to try new things.

  • Foster a willingness to learn from mistakes.

  • Don’t shield students from the consequences of their choices.


Establishing guidelines that give students a sense of ownership

Establishing Guidelines that Give Students a Sense of Ownership

  • Create a list of responsibilities.

  • Create a wage scale.

  • Define students’ payday.

  • Post a salary chart.

  • Select a designated time each week for payment of salaries.

  • Determine penalties for failure to comply with agreed-upon requirements.


Design your own money

Design Your Own Money


Apply for a job

Apply for a Job

  • Write a resumé

  • Conduct interviews

  • Sign an Employment Agreement


Give value to your money

Give Value to Your Money

To attain value, your created money must have purchasing power.

  • Price items available for purchase so that students do not have enough money to buy everything. They should choose among competing goods.

  • Use non-financial rewards.


There should be at least one large desirable purchase requiring students to budget and save weekly

There should be at least one large, desirable purchase requiring students to budget and save weekly.


Resources for teachers

Resources for Teachers

You do not have to re-invent the wheel to teach economics!


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