Today we began to discuss the economy of our class town. We started out with some journal writing and discussion about what the world would be like without money. They wrote “You couldn’t buy stuff.” They wrote, “People would be homeless because they couldn’t pay their rent.” Another student said, “Everything would be free. I would a X Box 3000, a Wi, a…” a long list.

We talked about what people did before they had money. One student mentioned trade. “Like, someone would trade two eggs for something…” We talked more about trade. We talked about the California tribes trading boats or canoes or seashells. Then we read a story about trade, “A New Coat for Anna.” The students were shocked because this was actually part  of the curriculum (in the Open Court textbook).

Then I introduced an economy for the day: colored squares. Today our class runs on colored squares. I paid off last week’s Homework Heroes and Best Behavior listers and I gave them all Balance sheets to record all income and spending for the day. They keep their squares in envelopes. They have to pay squares to drink water or use the bathroom. They earn squares if they get a purple card on our behavior chart by being on task, focused. they pay squares if they get a red card for being off task. The square bank is just a box sitting out int he open on a table. They grab them and put them back according to their transactions and then they record them. This seems to be working.

One of my goals was to introduce the balance sheet before we get to decimals. Another goal was to have the bank run out of squares so we could actually talk about making our monetary system more efficient. Also, their wallets are bulging with these colored squares. I asked them to think about it, at lunch, and see if they could figure out a way to simply our money system. I’m hoping they’ll come up with the idea of of assigning different values to different colors.

At the end of the day I think we will graph our earnings. How many people ended up with 0 to 20 squares? How many with 21 to 40? And so on. We will make statements of analysis. Then I’ll collect the squares and wallets and figure out tomorrow.

I need to decide whether to stay with the squares all week, trying out different rules, getting comfortable with balance sheets, perhaps introducing taxes, rent…have a market day…Or I might try some different monetary systems. One would be a haiku economy. What else could you do? Art. Pay each other in word problems? Not sure. Tune in later.

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