Doing what it takes to make it through the last 14 days.....

Yes we still have 14 days of school left and lots of important curriculum to cover so I can't afford to give in just yet.  How am I making it through these last three weeks before the freedom of summer arrives?  Bribery.  LOL  Just kidding - O'Bryan Bucks and O'Bryan Sales.

During the fourth marking period we institute a money system in fifth grade.  I tell my students they are entering the real world where they get paid for doing their expected jobs plus for going above and beyond. And, just like in the real world, they will now have to use that money to pay weekly bills and for extra privileges and fun stuff. 

Students start earning money for daily expectations like: getting their assignment planner signed nightly, turning in completed homework assignments, being in class and in seats when the bell rings, returning signed notes and classroom newsletters, etc. On average, students can earn $5 a day for accomplishing these expected jobs.

Students start paying daily for lunch/recess.  They pay a weekly rent fee and Fun Friday fee.  Those who complete their daily jobs, have more than enough money to pay for all of their daily and weekly bills with some left over to save for our O'Bryan sales.

They can also earn money by following directions quickly, lining up quietly, keeping desks clean and neat, and/or basically whatever desired behaviors I'm expecting at certain times.  Waving a few O'Bryan bucks in the air and stating, "I'm looking for who lines up the quietest," is pure magic.  These additional dollars build up and can be spent when I randomly offer extra privileges like free choice in the computer lab, extra recess, or sit by a friend or work with a partner time, etc. 

However, not all students will be able to pay their daily bills or participate in the extra privileges because either they did not complete their daily jobs or they lost money through fines.  Students can be fined money for not achieving the desired expectations - talking during instruction, not following directions, transitioning or lining up loudly, etc.  A few times of having to miss out on the extra fun privileges or not having any money to spend at an O'Bryan sale, and these students are working their hardest to earn O'Bryan bucks the next day.  No lie, I have a student who hasn't turned in a homework assignment on time all year - and has now started to slowly turn things in to earn O'Bryan bucks.  It's sad that it took fake money and not self motivation to accomplish this feat, but hey, whatever works, right?

I'm sure you're wondering by now, "What is an O'Bryan sale?"  This is the cheapest, easiest form of entertainment you can offer your students.  Essentially an O'Bryan sale is a yard sale in your classroom where students can purchase items with their O'Bryan bucks.  I keep things all year long (bookmarks from Scholastic, books and posters I no longer want, toys my own children have outgrown, clearance items I find at Target, etc).  I also invite the students to bring in items they can sell in their own sections of the O'Bryan sale.  It's like a subdivision garage sale! Most of them bring in items of their own they no longer want (with parent permission of course), things they make like loom bracelets, duct tape creations, cookies, and other sorts of stuff.

We hold two O'Bryan sales. One half way through the fourth marking period and the other at the end.  We just held the half way through sale a week ago.  Students had a great time using their hard earned bucks to buy goodies, and earning some bucks as well.  After the sale, students now have a renewed purpose to earn as many O'Bryan bucks as they can for the final sale the last week of school. 


Not only are the students learning that hard work and good choices pay off, but they are also realizing how to budget and save for their bills as well as when they can afford to spend money for the "extras" in life.  They're having fun and my sanity is safe.......for now!

Happy last few days of school to all my teacher friends!  What are you doing to save your sanity? I'd love to hear.


  1. Super cute idea and as a fellow fifth grade teacher, I am sure they love it! :) Thanks for sharing.
    Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. They do love it! Thank goodness for fake money LOL.

  2. I really like this idea .I was looking for something new and fabulous to keep them motivated

  3. What a fun idea! I use tickets (which are just like your O'Brien bucks) all year. The kiddos earn them and keep them in envelopes at their desk. They can buy small prizes or save up for larger privileges (free recess, lunch with the teacher, sit by a friend, etc.). I don't fine them for breaking the classroom rules - but I'm thinking I might next year! What do you do if the student doesn't have any bucks?

    Joy in the Journey

    1. Hi Jessica! If they can't pay for necessary things they go into debt which they have to pay back as soon as they earn new bucks. If they can't pay for extra, fun, things than they just have to miss out. :( Reality discipline. It only happens once or twice before they catch on and do what it takes to earn their bucks. :)


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