A Family Activity to Teach Money Skills to Young Kids

My youngest is going to 3rd grade this September. Where did time go?

If you have multiple kids like I do, I’m sure you can relate when I tell you that the youngest seem to be the “forgotten one”. Heck! I only realized that I forgot to pick up his baptismal certificate when I needed it for his CCD registration. Oh, and please don’t get me started with his baby book.

When it comes to homework, most of the time, his siblings who are two, four or six years older than him are the ones to have his back. Why is that? Let’s just say, I need to focus majority of my energy figuring out 6th or 8th grade Math.

Since it’s summer, I’ve decided to include some fun, educational and technology free games which all of us can enjoy.

This guest post below from Jennifer Chalupnik of Education.com is one of our favorites. Not only does it teach Child#4 the concepts, it also allows the older children to learn budgeting.  The best part is that the activity doesn’t feel like school work at all.

Once your third grader has mastered counting coins up to $1.00, in school he’ll begin to working numbers that make up larger dollar amounts. Chances are, he’ll want to go to a store and make a purchase using his own allowance and savings. In which case, he will need to know what bills and coins he will need to make his purchase.

When it comes to numbers, it really boils down to practice makes perfect. This activity will not only help him practice math skills, like counting, addition and subtraction, it will also give him a change to learn more life skills such as purchasing and money exchange. These concepts are important to learn as he grows up.

What You’ll Need:

  • Several old greeting cards (used are fine)
  • Dollar bills and coins (5 $1 bills and several coins – quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies and half dollar, in case you have it around)
  • Several shoppers (That’s where his siblings come handy)
  • One person to play cashier

What to do:

1. Begin this activity with a warm up. Show your child a greeting card, toy or book and state the price. Have him arrange his money and show what he would use to buy the card. Provide him with assistance if needed. Once he gets it, challenge him to come up with different dollar and coin combinations to reach the same amount.

2. When he is ready, display all the cards on a table for a “shopper” to browse the selection.

3. Choose one person to be the Cashier.

4. Each shopper will select a greeting card and give the cashier the appropriate number of bills and coins. (In our case, we let Child#4 pay for each purchase. He’s the one with all the money after all.)

5. The cashier should check that the amount given is correct. Counting the payment out loud helps with retention.

6. Allow the third grader (child) to take turns as a cashier and shopper. (In our case, all of us became a shopper and cashier.)

Don’t have greeting cards on hand? Feel free to use other things such as baseball cards or toys you have lying around the house. Just make sure not to write the prices on anything that you wouldn’t want to be written on!

This activity will allow your child to practice his counting skills and prepare him to make purchases on his own the next time you travel to the store together. You may be surprised at his new found confidence and purchasing skills!


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