Starting a school store

  • Age group:
    Students ages 6 to 7
  • When:
    September and October
    Evaluation: February
  • Time required:
    4 hours 50 minutes

Area of learning:

  • Community life and citizenship

Financial and cooperative skills

  • Using an account at a financial institution
  • Spending wisely
  • Learning about democracy

Activity summary

Students create a system that will pay them in return for carrying out responsibilities in the classroom. They learn about the principles of democracy by selecting a classmate to oversee the money in their school store. They carry out basic financial institution transactions (deposits, withdrawals, etc.) and make purchases at the store. They then apply what they have learned by solving math problems similar to those encountered in class.


Table of disciplinary and non-disciplinary competencies

Disciplinary competencies taught

Disciplines Competency Learning progression
  • Problem solving
  • Using mathematical concepts to reason
  • Analyzing a problem with the help of specific material, diagrams or equations
  • Understanding which operation(s) to use for a specific problem
  • Determining numerical equivalencies by using relationships between operations (addition and subtraction)

Non-disciplinary competencies

  • Acquiring effective working methods


Students draw up a list of responsibilities and use democratic principles to elect their store manager.

Task 1 objective

  • Time required
    90 minutes
  • Teaching material
    Paid Jobs
    (PDF, 179 KB)

At the end of this task, students will understand that money can be earned by carrying out responsibilities within the classroom.


  1. Tell students they will be compensated (with “school money”) when they carry out responsibilities (jobs) within the classroom. To illustrate this, take a look at the real world where people earn money by working.
  2. Help the students draw up a list of jobs that will be paid (with school money) and determine how many of them can take on the same responsibilities at any given time.
  3. Define each responsibility once the list has been completed.
  4. With the students, determine how to assign responsibilities so each student has a job to do each month, and determine when compensation will be paid.
  5. Give each student a job that will benefit the group as a whole.

Teacher's notes

  • In Grade 1, we suggest dividing this activity over 4 periods, each approximately 20 minutes long.
  • Some jobs may be performed concurrently by several students working simultaneously or taking turns. For example, 2 students can wash boards or desks at the same time, while 2 others can take turns straightening up. Running the school store can be a job shared by students.
  • Use the Paid Jobs sheet as needed. In the “Description” column write details about the duties to be performed, so each job is clearly defined. In the “When” column indicate how often the work must be done: every morning, at noon, on Thursday, etc. In the “$” column , write the agreed-upon compensation for each job—the amounts do not need to be the same.
  • If each job is to receive a different amount of compensation, allow students to take turns. If students are assigned tasks for the entire year, we suggest indicating this on the sheet. Note that the sheet is based on the premise that responsibilities will change every month. With regard to compensation, make clear to students that if they do not complete their assignments satisfactorily, they will not be paid, and work with them to determine how this will be tracked. For instance, each time a warning is issued, note it on a list of students' names; ask the group if they have noted deficiencies, etc.

Task 2 objective

At the end of this task, students will be able to take a vote to select a classmate who will be responsible for depositing and withdrawing school money.


  1. Introduce the students to the position of manager, the duties it involves and the qualities a manager should have, using the Bookkeeping Record. Determine in advance how much the manager will be paid.
  2. Explain the principle of democracy and provide examples of it.
  3. Ask students who are interested in this job to introduce themselves and explain why they would be good managers.
  4. Take a vote.
  5. Give the student who is elected manager the bookkeeping record and explain the responsibilities of the job.

Teacher's notes

  • Fill out the Bookkeeping Record beforehand so it reflects your class routine.
  • Most government representatives are elected democratically—just like student council members. Explain to the class how democracy works: People who are interested in holding office come forward and campaign for votes. Individuals who have the right to vote then cast their ballots, choosing among those who have campaigned for office. The person who receives the most votes is elected.
  • The class can vote by using a show of hands or by asking each student (including those who want to be manager) to write the name of the person they wish to choose on a slip of paper. Then collect the papers and add up the votes.
  • Running the school store is not an easy job, so your manager may want to have his or her work double-checked by another Grade 1 student who ensures that things are done correctly.


Students familiarize themselves with basic financial institution transactions and make purchases at the school store.

All the documents you need to carry out this activity are in the right-hand column under Useful links.

Task 1 objective

  • Time required
    20 minutes
  • Teaching material
    Transaction Log
    (PDF, 155 KB)

At the end of this task, students will have made school account transactions and understand that saving is the way to grow their assets.


  1. Print transaction logs (1 for each student).
  2. Give each student a statement.
  3. Explain the terms deposit, withdrawal, balance and interest.
  4. Determine with the students when they will be able to make deposits and withdrawals.

Teacher's notes

  • To encourage students to save, introduce them to the concept of interest. Explain that interest is usually calculated at the end of each month and expressed as a percentage. Depending on students' ages and the complexity of the calculations for their academic levels, we suggest adding $1 for every $10 in the account at the end of each month. The concept of interest can be omitted for Grade 1 students.
  • Explain to the students that they will need to make withdrawals to buy things at the school store (or make special purchases).

Task 2 objective

  • Time required
    30 minutes

At the end of this task, students will be able to deposit money in their school accounts and withdraw it when they plan to make purchases at the school store.


  1. Show the students what they can buy at the school store and how much everything costs.
  2. Display a list of prices so students can plan their purchases depending on how much money is in their accounts. This will allow them to make some calculations before they shop.
  3. Tell the students what the store hours are, so they can make their purchases during the week.

Teacher's notes

  • Along with useful school-related items, the store can also offer special purchases (for example, lunch in the classroom with the teacher, a break from homework, indoor recess, etc.). It is also very interesting to let students come up with ideas for special school store purchases.


Students apply the concepts learned to solve math problems.

Task 1: Solve math problems in the context of the school store

Task 1 objective

  • Time required
    90 minutes
  • Teaching material
    (PDF, 456 KB)

At the end of this task, students will be able to solve math problems that require addition and subtraction of whole numbers.


  1. Give each student an Evaluation form.
  2. Read the situation description with the students and compare it to what they experience in the classroom.
  3. Read Problem 1 with the students and give them time to work through it.
  4. Read Problem 2 with the students and give them time to work through it.
  5. Read Problem 3 with the students and give them time to work through it.
  6. Collect the papers and correct the work.

Teacher's notes