Setting Up a Virtual Classroom Economy: A Guide for Teachers

Kel Lysaght

Kel Lysaght

Marketing Coordinator

This guide is a resource for teachers on how to set up a virtual classroom and make the class economy relatable and understandable for our students. It discusses the importance of teaching students the difference between 'needs' and 'wants'. 

Knowledge of budgeting is a game-changer for their financial well-being, helping them develop smart decision-making skills.

In a rush? No worries! Maddie from the Banqer Primary team has got you covered. She breaks down all these blog topics in the videos below.

Understanding the classroom economy

The first step is initiating a conversation with your students about the classroom economy. Discuss what they will be earning payments for, what they'll be required to pay you as the teacher, and what actions might earn them bonuses or incur fines. This conversation lays the foundation for understanding how the classroom economy will function.

Setting up income and expense modules

Once your students have a basic understanding of the classroom economy, it's time to set up the income and expense modules. To make these concepts relatable, draw parallels between the classroom and the real world.


Ask your students if they know what income is. Do they know anyone who earns an income - parents, grandparents, or other family members? They might connect the idea of earning income to their father going to work or completing projects at the office. Once this connection is made, it becomes easier to explain that they will earn a similar income in the classroom for completing assignments and participating in class activities.


Next, discuss expenses. What do their families have to pay for on a weekly or monthly basis? As students share their observations, such as paying for electricity or rent, you can relate these experiences to classroom expenses. For instance, they might have to pay for the Wi-Fi on their device or the space at the table where they sit in class.

Creating a classroom economy that mirrors real-world financial systems helps students grasp important concepts and makes learning more engaging. It's a wonderful way to make abstract economic concepts tangible and relatable for young learners.

Understanding disposable income

Once you've got the basic income and expense modules up and running, it's time to have a chat with your students about how much they're making and spending each week. This hands-on activity will give them a real-life understanding of their money situation. After your students have worked out their income and taken care of their expenses, talk about what's left - their disposable income. So, if they're starting with fictitious pretend earnings of $300 and they've spent $120, ask them what they'd like to do with the leftover $180.

Observing spending Habits

Then, take a look at how your students are choosing to use their leftover money. Are they splurging on goodies or special passes to skip homework? Maybe they're deciding to save it? Watching what they do can kickstart some great class discussions and give you insight into how they think about money.

Distinguishing between needs and wants

Now, it's time to delve into the difference between needs and wants. You could use the example of a treat – they might want it, but do they need it? Maybe there's something more important they'll need later. Should they save their money for that instead? These types of chats can help students make smarter choices about how they spend their money.

Get them involved in the everyday expense activity to check out the real-life costs of things. Ask them to think about questions like, How much does electricity cost for a month? or What's the grocery bill for a family of four? This activity not only helps them understand expenses better, but also gives them a sneak peek into what budgeting in real life is like.

Continuing conversations around budgeting

As you enable more modules in your financial literacy program, encourage students to revisit their budget sheets. If they're making extra money from class jobs or have new expenses like taxes, it's important to add these changes to their budgets. This helps them figure out how much money they're really left with at the end of the week and see how their money situation has changed.

As you move on to more advanced modules, like Transport, use these as chances to talk more about budgeting. These modules give some great examples from the real world about how the way they spend can affect their money.

Revisit Needs and Wants

During these discussions, keep reinforcing the idea of needs versus wants. What are the things they'd love to buy, and what are the things they really need? Understanding the difference is crucial for making smart choices about spending.

Just because they've got enough money to buy something right now doesn't mean they can keep up with the costs that come later. If they're thinking about buying a car, can they also handle the weekly costs that come with it? Having this talk can help them think about other options, like maybe using a scooter, a bike, or even public transport instead.

Budgeting and needs versus wants class activities

Take advantage of the resources available in the Teacher Resource Hub. After teaching the basic income and expenses lessons, you can explore the extension activities for a more in-depth understanding.  Maddie shares in the next two videos how she would teach these concepts to students.

Teacher Resource shown: Daily Budget worksheet

Teacher Resource shown: Everyday Expenses worksheet

Ready to level up financial education at your school?

If you’re interested in seeing how Banqer Primary can easily fit into your plans and support your students with authentic learning outcomes, let us know!

Click the button below and our team can take you through a short demo. Or if you’re already a Banqer Teacher, we can support you with a PD session to learn additional tips and tricks.

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