Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bank of Kindergarten

We've been using a really cute behavior chart with clips moving up and down accordingly. I saw it somewhere on a blog, but don't remember where. Thank you to the clever person that came up with it.

Anyway... I occasionally change things up a bit to keep the kidlets interested. A very dear friend, now retired, gave me yet another way to motivate good behavior while also teaching them about coin names and values.

Find some baby food jars and use paint pens to write first names on them. Make sure the jars have lids to keep the "banks" secure from thieves - yes, it happens!

I always explain that I'm a teacher and I get paid for doing a good job. If I don't do my job, I don't get paid. It's the whole behavior/consequence discussion that we have all the time. They totally get it.

Next, I let them know that I will be paying them for doing their job, which is to be a good student and classmate. Their jar is their bank. I immediately begin passing out pennies for good behavior. They respond quickly and we're off! I have bowls of pennies for my parent volunteers, yard duty - everyone! We give out pennies for all sorts of things: being kind, sitting still, doing good work, cleaning up their space, etc. Extra pennies for being quiet.

On the flip side, if they are not following our class rules or if they are keeping others from learning, they may have to pay me some of their hard earned cash.

After they earn their first five pennies they may go to the "Bank of Kindergarten" and trade them in for a nickel. Once they earn another five pennies they may trade those in for another nickel or include their nickel and exchange them for a dime. You get the idea. Eventually they will have twenty-five cents to trade in for a quarter at which point they may go shopping at the "Class Store".

About the "Bank of Kindergarten"... I usually have a few children that are great with money and who can handle being our banker. However, this year I am inviting last year's banker back. He was nothing sort of amazing - he could make change so quickly in his head! I was impressed. Anyway, he will arrive during journal time, put on his banker's visor and put out the "Bank is Now Open" sign. He invites quiet kids over one or two at a time to pour out their jar. The kids must count the coins out and place them in his hands. He has been trained to ask which coin they think they should receive and helps them if necessary. I am nearby and can step in if needed. They learn coin names and values very quickly.

A note about fraud: some of the kids are wise enough to sneak in money from home. It's not hard to tell who is doing this because you'll notice three quarters suddenly appear in their jar. It is helpful to address this at the very beginning, but I have been doing this for years and it never fails to happen.

Another problem: the jars are made of glass and can break. We have carpets so it's not much of an issue for me. There may be a better option.

Have fun! I go to the bank and get rolls of coins and add it to my own change jar so I am never caught short. If they are going back to the bank enough you'll get your pennies back for circulation.


  1. This is a great idea! I have a whole class penny jar that I use for behavior and it works basically the same way. What do you do for storage? Do they stay right at their seat or do you have a shelf or something for them?

  2. Thank you so much for leaving a comment! You've no idea how much it means to me!

    Yes, they keep their jars at their desk all day and then, before they leave for the day, the kids push them together at the end of the tables so that I can clean.

    Also, I keep a variety of change in a big jar and in the apron that I wear every day-I jingle wherever I go! The apron makes for fast delivery and retrieval of money when necessary. I also have a little change purse that sits in "Teacher Land" up by our morning meeting spot. "Teacher Land" is a sacred area deemed mine-only and the kids are quick to tattle when anyone breaks the code!
    When it is time for the bank to be open, the "banker" sorts a pile of assorted coins into one of those plastic dip containers, puts out his sign and invites quiet (ha!) workers over to exchange coins.
    Thanks again,