Aquarium Procedures

Following are a few procedures that we use to help our guppies successfully participate in class.

The entrance into the classroom is a doorway to learning. Each morning, students will be directed to put things away neatly, choose their supplies, and work on solving a brain teaser. Some of the puzzles may be riddles; some may be questions regarding appropriate behavior; sometimes there can be a math problem and so on. When students are finished with this task or any other individual work, there is a list of things that can be done next so other students can continue to work.

The way that we share responses is specific, especially when we want everyone to participate. Our guppies sit in a fish bowl shape so there is an obvious order. We start at one end of the bowl and proceed fish by fish to the other end. This gives each fish time to plan what they are going to say since they can see when they will be sharing.

Since our treasured rule is to be kind, the students will be giving examples on the first day during circle time. Throughout the year, whenever we see different acts of kindness, we will add to the be kind poster.

There are many of these procedures in place so that each fish in the Aquarium can feel safe, accepted, and successful.

Aquarium Economy

Here is a breakdown and details on our Aquarium’s economy system.


We will have different roles for each of our students to perform. Students will be able to make requests for particular jobs, but decisions will ultimately be based on student strengths. Every student will be shown as many times as they need how to perform their task. We will be using sand dollars especially designed for this class as our currency. We will be focusing on whole numbers so they will start out in single dollar increments. We may introduce fives and tens before the end of the school year.

We will spend time in class teaching the students about the jobs, how they will earn their salary, how they can earn bonus money, how they will need to pay rent each month, and how they can spend their extra money. We will also discuss that they will earn less money if classroom rules are broken.

Jobs and Earning

Every week students will earn $2 for completing their classroom job provided no rules were broken. Income is reduced to $1 if any rules are broken. Weekly income will never dip below that amount (for now).

Rent on their desks is due on the 28th day of each month, beginning the second month of school. As long as weekly income does not go below $1, each student will be able to pay their rent. Rent is paid before students are allowed to shop at the New Coral Shop.

Roles include:

  • First fish – the first student in line, sets the pace, knows where we’re going and which route to take
  • Final fish – the last student in line, keeps gaps in line to a minimum, helps make sure we have everyone in line
  • Gardener – waters the plants in the class according to specific instructions (may also help with another job for bonus sand dollars since watering happens only once per week)
  • Zookeeper – is responsible for feeding the fish at the same time each day
  • Banker – collects rent and passes out salaries, may also pass out bonus sand dollars
  • Table cleaner (2) – wipes down tables when needed and at the end of the day
  • Floor cleaner (2) – keeps trash on the floor at a minimum throughout the day
  • Custodian – keeps bookshelves and supply closets neat and tidy
  • Paper Passer – passes out papers whenever necessary
  • Greeter – opens the door for students and adults, greets visitors kindly

Bonus Sand Dollars

Bonus money can be earned in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:

  • A student is caught being kind
  • A student follows a classroom procedure correctly
  • Students receive compliments from other teachers
  • A student reaches a personal goal
  • The class reaches a classroom goal

New Coral Shop

The New Coral Shop will be open once per month immediately after students pay rent. Any student who is unable to pay rent or has no money left over will not be able to shop. The shop will be stocked with a mixture of items including things like snacks, sports balls, pencils, erasers, books, etc. There will also be intangible items such as extra time in an activity of their choice, lunch with teacher, or other special privileges. Items that are worth more will cost more encouraging students to save! There will also be class rewards that students can put money into thereby working together for a common reward.

Discussions and Wrap-up

At the end of each week, we will talk about what students did to earn their money, why some of them decided to save or donate to the class reward, and what they can do next week to earn more money. Some conversations may happen one on one to help improve student behavior.

Certificates will be rewarded at the end of the year and an overall discussion about what they learned about economy will happen.