by Kelley Jilek
There are few things that affect our lives on a daily basis like money does. Considering the questionable state of the current economy, children may be hearing about it even more often. Teachable money moments are easy to come by. Take advantage of children’s natural interest in how money works.
Play with money (pretend money, that is!)
- Dramatize buying and selling things together by playing store or marketplace. You can do this anywhere and you don’t need specific toys – just use what you have!
- Make homemade puzzles. Do an Internet search for photos of bills and coins. Enlarge a few images, print them, mount them on cardboard, and cut them into several pieces to create a puzzle for your child to put together. Offer clues, as necessary (“Can you find the rest of George Washington’s head?”).
- Invite your child to sort currency (real or pretend) in a number of ways. As he works, talk about the similarities and differences of the bills and coins. (Use your judgment when offering coins to your child – they are a choking hazard! Practice counting money in different ways.)
- Ask for a specific number of bills or coins. Help your child count them out. Talk about the value of each coin or bill and how they exchange with other kinds of money (a nickel is worth five pennies). Toss five pennies onto a table. Count the number of heads and tails.
- Go to http://www.newmoney.gov/uscurrency/default.htm to view the different denominations of real paper bills interactively (flip, zoom in, find the watermark and the “color shifting ink”).
Use money (for real!)
- Have your child choose and pay for small items on a shopping trip. This will help her understand that money can only buy so much, and that we have to make choices about what we want/need.
- Donate money or buy items to share to teach your child that generosity and giving is an important aspect of managing money.
- Children must understand that money is valuable and must be kept in a safe place. Explain where money is to be stored at home (piggy bank or similar) and why money might be taken to a bank for safe keeping until we need it.
Read and discuss books about money
- A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban
- Lemonade in Winter by Emily Jenkins
- Bunny Money by Stephen Krensky
- Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells
- One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent: All About Money by Bonnie Worth