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End-of-Year Auction

Back to End-of-Year Less


  • Arts & Humanities
    --Visual Arts
  • Mathematics


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

“Cleaning house” in your classroom? Hold a classroom auction!



  • plan for and work within a budget.
  • learn about the importance of spending money wisely.
  • explain in writing the math behind their auction bids.


auction, clean, end-of-year

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

This activity can be a culminating activity if you plan ahead. See the Plan Ahead notes below for an idea about how to make this auction a fun, culminating activity to a year of art projects.

Since we have not asked you to plan in advance, this activity will work well if you follow the lesson ideas below

In order to hold an auction, you need to have things to auction off. You might not have a closet full of valuable artworks in your classroom (see Plan Ahead), but you have probably found some other things you would not mind getting rid of as you've been going about the business of packing up your classroom. So why not have some fun, unload those things, and give your students some end-of-year math practice at the same time?

Collect a bunch of things you wouldn't mind getting rid of -- books, markers, posters, stickers, CDs, you name it -- and put them up for auction!

Ask students if any of them have ever been to an auction? Ask them to tell you what goes on at an auction.

Appoint one or two students to fulfill the role of "banker." They will collect "money" as students bid on and win items put up for bid.

Before the bidding starts, give each student a sheet of Classroom Auction Bucks. The sheet of has a total of $50 in denominations of $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills. Have students use scissors to cut the sheet into 12 separate bills. (Print out a few extra sheets so you have some cash for the bankers to use as change.)

So you've gathered a box full of items you would like to put up for auction Now bring out the items one at a time.

Auctions usually have "inspection periods" in the days or hours before the actual auction. In this case, you might auction the items blindly, without an inspection period. That will add an element of the unknown to the auction process. Students will wonder if they should bid high, or spend a great deal of their Classroom Auction Bucks early on in the auction, because they won't know what cool items might be coming up for bid.

Explain the auction process to students. Bidding for each item will start at $1. The bidding can continue in increments of $1 to a maximum increase of $5 over the latest bid. The bidding ends when a bid reaches exactly $50 or when the bidding stops at an amount less than that. Students turn in their cash to the banker in exchange for the item they won.

Plan Ahead
If you plan ahead for this auction, you could auction off student artwork that you collect throughout the year. For each art project you do with students, collect a few samples and hold them aside. At the end of the school year, after all your bulletin boards are packed away, bring out the sample art projects and post them on the bare bulletin boards for a day. Assign a number to each work of art. (If you plan this really well, you might have held out one or two sample artworks for each student.) Explain to students that

We are going to auction off these works of art. Today is the "inspection period," and tomorrow the works will be auctioned. Today is your one and only chance to inspect the art, to determine which piece(s) of art you might want to own. Tomorrow, you will be given $50 auction bucks. You can bid on items you would like to take home.

You might add

If you were at a real auction, you would not want to let on about the items on which you plan to bid. So keep your thoughts to yourself; that way, others don't know what you consider to be the most valuable items up for bid.

When students arrive the next day, the artworks have been removed from the walls. Students must have remembered the items on which they most wanted to bid. Then, one at a time, bring the artworks out of "storage" and put them up for bid.


Each student should provide a detailed accounting of the money s/he spent. You might ask students to document all items on which they bid, the top amount they bid, and the final amount for which the item was sold. After the auction is over, ask students what they learned about auctions from the experience. Ask them to talk about things they might have done differently if they were able to relive the auction.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins


Updated 5/31/15