Earn and LearnAnother post I’ve been meaning to finish off for a while. This topic came about following a conversation I was having on twitter with another teacher about creating online bank accounts for students.

Earn and Learn is a financial awareness program developed by Rob Vingerhoets. This program sees students operate in a way similar to a small town or community.

Initially, students receive a base weekly payment for the work they complete. Students who undertake leadership roles or have extra responsibilities within the classroom are able to receive additional payments. Such resposnibilities might include taking the lunch orders to the canteen, cleaning the class library, setting up the computers, turning on and off the lights when we enter and leave our room.

Students also pay tax through the money they earn, make weekly “rent” payments for their seat and locker, take out insurance policies against forgetting their homework or receving an injury, contribute to superannuation and make purchases. Students operate businesses within the classroom and organise their finances through credit, debit and cheque accounts at our class bank.

This book was originally published in 1990’s and utilises a lot of black line masters. Wanting to incorporate 21st century learning, I took many aspects of this and transfered them across to computers; the main one being the setup of the students banking accounts through a series of excel spreadsheets. Students also created sales ledgers and the sign writer used publisher to create the signs for the various businesses  (I don’t have 1:1 in my school, but imagine the possibilities !)

This program encompasses many domains of the Victorian Essential Learning Standards and reflects a variety of attributes of PoLT. Students need to ensure that necessary documentation is completed each week to ensure they are paid; this encourages and supports students to take responsibility for their learning (Principle 2.1). Students work together in teams to manage and operate their businesses and to seek support and clarification; this uses strategies that build skills of productive collaboration (Principle 2.2). Students use their visual art skills and publishing applications to generate signage for their businesses. Spreadsheet applications are used to monitor their income and expenditure. This capitalises on students’ experience of a technology rich world and has students using technologies in ways that reflect professional and community practices (Principle 3.4 & 6.3)

Since introducing this program, student attendance figures within my class increased, and quality of work and assessment results improved. I have also supported colleagues to implement this program within their classes. As a collective, we are now discussing the strengths and weaknesses of this program and looking at how we can develop this program as we move towards an open plan learning environment for the following year. This links with our school Annual Implementation Plan goal of increasing student motivation towards learning….

It’s been great fun !

Do you run Earn & Learn in your classroom ?
Have you made modifications to the program to suit your needs ?
How have you incorporated the use of ICT to assist you in managing the program ?

21 Thoughts to “Earn & Learn”

  1. Great post, Scott and a really good program. I used a similar program in my classroom a few years ago and found it to be enormously motivating for students. While it initially took a lot of setting up from me, I was also pleasantly surprised by how much the students took on the management and future modifications of the program. They were much better at coming up with suggestions as to what we should do next and put in much time and effort to develop their changes.

    One modification they made was to introduce a ‘voucher shop’ where they could buy things like ‘choose your own seat’ vouchers (highly sought after as we had a random seat selection which could see them sitting anywhere and would change each fortnight) and ‘free time’ vouchers (which, when spent, would amaze me by what they chose to use their time doing. Lego and playdough were the favourites, even in Grade 4). I also found that the program reduced absences and gave students more control in their classroom which helped their confidence in all areas.

  2. mrduncan

    Thanks for the feedback Gillian 🙂

    A voucher shop – What a great idea. Something I’ll add to my notes for next time.

  3. Octave Tuitea

    I like earn and learn coz it teaches students whats going to happen to them in the future and then they know what to do ( I am A student @ meadowglen primary school and love earn and learn

  4. Georgina


    Great post! I’m a graduate and looking to start Earn and Learn with my Grade 3/4 class this term. I love the idea of incorporating ICT. Just wondering, did you use any paper money at all or was it all done on the computer? If so, how would the kids buy things?



    1. Mr Duncan

      Hi Georgina – Thanks for the comment. It’s been a few years since I ran this program so I’m trying my best to remember! (I’m in a new role and don’t get the chance to do it anymore)

      I know we used a combination of both “paper” money and “credit” or “debit” cards. For the “credit” and “debit” cards, it worked much like old-school credit cards used to. They would complete a ‘credit slip’ with their credit card details, the date, details of the purchase, price etc… These slips would then be sent across to the class bank and a student would then enter the transaction in to the associated bank account.spreadsheet.

      It would be interesting to see how this could work with changes and greater availability to ICT tools and devices now. Good Luck with your implementation – Would love to hear how it works for you! 🙂

  5. Megan

    Hi Scott,

    I am really keen to implement an Earn & Learn program in my Grade Six class this year. When I began my teaching career about 10 years ago I implemented one using paper money, however times & technology have changed, so I was wondering if you could email me a sample of the spreadsheets you used when implementing your program?? also just wondering what money amounts to allocate to tasks etc. I would be so grateful.

    Kind Regards,
    Megan Carroll

    1. Mr Duncan

      Hi Meagan,

      It’s been about 4 years since I ran this program myself. I’ve been teaching ICT as a specialist the last few years. Having said all that, I am moving back into a classroom environment when school returns in 2014. Will be interesting to see if this is something that the team I am working with wish to explore.

      After searching around through my computer, I have uploaded the templatesdocumentsspreadsheets that I have made to a Google Drive Folder that you can access. Hopefully this helps with your thinking – Feel free to download them and change them to suit your needs. (They look a bit dated now !)

      If I were to run it now, I would tap into the power of Google Drive and use formsspreadsheets to record the transactions and cut out a lot of the paperwork. No more issues with having only one file open at a time, having issues with savingdeleting data and information would be updated in real time.

      Best Wishes with your program – Would love to hear more about how it goes !


  6. Kathy

    I’ve run Earn and Learn quite a few times, but not for a few years. It’s a great program, but as you and others have mentioned, it is quite time consuming, especially at the beginning.
    The documents you have put on Google Drive are exactly what I’ve been looking for. Was about to start setting up some spreadsheets for myself. Thank you so much. Saved me a heap of time.

    1. Mr Duncan

      Hi Kathy – I’m glad the documents were able to help you. Too often we a teachers reinvent the wheel over and over again when we could spend our time doing something better.

      As I mentioned, feel free to change and use them as you see fit. Would be great if you could share any changes you made and perhaps share a copy of anything new.

      Keep us updated on how you go in implementing this with your class !

      Best of Luck,


  7. Wendy

    I used the Earn and learn program in the 90’s with a 5/6/ composite class over a few years. The children and parents loved it. It just wasn’t about money – covered art- setting up displays and advertisements for their shops. Planning for the future – desks near the light and easy access resulted in a higher rent – they had to prepare CV’s for the jobs they wanted and then had to go to interviews. I was a floating teacher but when they interviewed their own teacher for the job of his class – they didn’t give him the job and have him a list of points noting he should have presented himself.
    Reading in the Tele today that teachers are to be trained for Money Smart teaching – in High schools. your book does it all for primary schools.

    1. Mr Duncan

      Hi Wendy – Thanks for the comment. It’s great that the Earn and Learn program just incorporates so many area of the curriculum. I love that the students did re-employe their own teacher ! What a great story ! I hope he took the feedback on board and applied this to his work.

  8. Natalie

    Hi Scott
    I have been using an earn and learn type program in my 6/7 class this year (based on the success of one run a few years ago) It is an excellent motivator for students. Students have to pay for items of stationery that they need, which has drastically reduced the amount of “lost’ pencils etc. We run a class shop every few weeks and students have the opportunity to purchase trinkets, mystery auctions, hot chocolates and vouchers. Some of our most popular vouchers are silent disco – kids can listen to music on headphones while working, toasty toes – kids can wear slippers indoors and tycoons – kids can pay to have their photo printed on a limited edition of $100 notes!
    We also have infringements where kids are fined for class negotiated, unacceptable behaviours and obviously rewards for positives and extra work etc.
    We run solely on a paper money system at present but am keen to look into the credit/electronic system too.

    1. Mr Duncan

      Hi Natalie – Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I love the rewards you are offering. I’ll need to keep this in mind for the future !

      When I first wrote this blog post, I was in a classroom and then moved into an ICT Specialist role for the last 3 years. This year I’ve moved back into teaching a class and am keen to kick off this program again.

      I’m keen to look into possibilities of an electronic banking system to help out with this program. I’ll see what I can discover and maybe do an updated post ! (This one is nearly 4 years old now !!!)

  9. Rod

    This is fantastic, thanks.
    I’ve a year 3/4 group this year. We’ve been playing with some fake cash as a reward system during this term. The kids having been loving it – its been very basic – though the kids have enjoyed the concept of counting money, saving and spending. They are keen to retain the use of money in the classroom and want me to explore further how we could do this – Hence ‘Earn and Learn’. Am I too late to start it for term 4? We have a planning day next week for 4th term and was hoping to explore the concept further here. Any feedback would be good. If possible I’d love to be able to have a more involved chat with someone that has run the program before – I’d love to be able to implement properly the first time and would appreciate any info relating to things that have worked, bombed, tec.

  10. Mr Duncan

    Hi Rod – Thanks for the comments.

    In terms of implementing Earn and Learn it would depend on how much time you can allocated to getting setup and doing the initial teaching sessions. It’s been many years since I ran this but I do remember it taking some time. If you can get your hands on a copy of the book it will step you through the process. Try looking here if you are after a copy of the book: http://www.robvingerhoets.com.au/details.asp?ProductID=75
    as it steps you through each lesson and what needs to be done. I remember taking out some elements I took out for grade 3/4 like Government Bonds as I found that confusing but I defiantly think it’s worth investigating further.

    Maybe you could share your experience back here with an updated comment…. Good Luck !

  11. Scott Duncan

    After lots of comments about creating online bank accounts, I just discovered:

    It allows you to setup accounts for your class and to deposit and withdraw money. It also allows you to generate ‘bank notes’ and assign different permission levels for each account. You can also schedule regular payments to go in or come out.

    The students also get a username and password so they can log in and process their payments.

    Looks interesting – I think I’d need to play and investigate further.

  12. Laura

    Hi, I’m in a 5/6 class and we are implementing this program this term. Just one thing that I am confused about. After the kids get their first three official pays do they only make money off their businesses and jobs/POR’s or do they keep getting a base salary as long as they have a business or a job?

  13. Connie

    Hi Scott,

    I have used kidsbank this year and it was a big help. I chose bankers and tellers to take control of depositing wages and making withdrawals. The bank operated during an allocated time that we used to hold a market. The students could sell anything they made. We held auctions and there was even a real estate agent that helped sell seats at different times of the day. We applied for our jobs using a resume and cover letter.

    The children really enjoyed this program!!

  14. steve

    any chance you miught have a copy of this book? I cant find it anywhere….

    1. Scott

      It’s been out of print for a while… I found the following information on his website.

      Hope that’s some help.


  15. Liz Phelan

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for the post, I only recently came across Earn & Learn via a teacher who had implemented it in her classrooms, so it’s great to read all the commentary on how well it works to engage and motivate students.

    It appears to serve a similar purpose as our platform, Banqer – that is to teach kids important financial concepts and life skills. Our program was designed by a teacher in New Zealand and developed in his classrooms over 5 years before he partnered to take it online and into classrooms across the country. Teachers love it for the ease of implementation and how well it integrates into life in their classrooms, creating an engaging environment that provides ample context to explore a range of curriculum links.

    We’re just now introducing it to classrooms in Australia, and are really proud to be able to offer if for free so that there is no barrier for kids to get savvy with money and develop enterprising skills.

    It would be great to get your (or anyones!) thoughts – Banqer is improving financial capabilities in NZ and now we’re on a mission to do the same for Aussie kids.

    Thanks again,


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