Show me the money-Part Two: Setting up Shop

So learning about money has been a big hit with my oldest.  She’s intrigued.  She’s excited.  And she’s very interested.

And when she’s interested in something, she listens (well, listen might be a stretch-she’s more inclined to take what I have to say into consideration). :)

So the other day, we brought out the nickel.  Now the idea that one slightly larger silver coin is worth as much as five brown smaller coins is a bit abstract for a four-year old, but since I had her attention I thought I would introduce it anyway.  L manipulated the coins around and we played around with making different amounts.  Like I said, a bit complicated and probably won’t completely register, since she is not developmentally at a place to build those non-concrete relationships in her little 4yr. old mind.  But I wasn’t pushing it, just introducing and talking about it together.  And really we’re still just getting down the names of the coins.  Our grownup world is so confusing…..

Now for the fun part.  I had mentioned in a previous post, that the best way for any child to learn, is through tangible, real-life experiences.  A trip  to the grocery store with (physical) money in hand is a great way to teach your child about money.  Food cost money.  You can exchange money to buy what you need.  Different things cost different amounts of money.  Once you run out of money, you can no longer buy things (at least that’s how it is supposed to work).

But children learn best through play.  Going to the store  might expose them to money, and how it works, but manipulating it themselves, gives them the ability to truly learn and internalize how it works.  Play is essential to building understanding about how the world around them functions.

So we made ourselves a little store.  L and a sweet little friend were in charge of setting up all the goodies they were going to sell.  They also cut out paper pennies and nickels (from an old workbook) and glued them on little signs to show how much each area of items would be.

This was the bargain table.  (I don’t know if you can read that little sign but each item was on special for 4 cents). Now that’s a deal.

Each girl received her own bag of money to ‘spend’ at the store.

And of course they took turns shopping. :)

Quite the spread.

To say that they enjoyed it would be an understatement.  They LOVED counting out their money to one another, and I was amazed at how well they kept track of where each item was from and how much it was.  Amazed.

And the great part about this activity was that it allowed for some real exchanges and dialogue about the money being used (we only used pennies and nickels).  If L didn’t have 10 pennies, but she had a nickel and 5 pennies, she could still buy an item from the .10 cent table.  And watching them work together was quite the treat. :)

Another good life lesson from this fun ‘activity’; once their money was gone, it was gone.  The shopping time had ended (until we put things back, redistributed money and started over), but still the concept was understood in such a clear way - I have only so much money, I have spent all my money, and now I am finished shopping.

The girls had so much fun,they even made little aprons for themselves when they were the ‘workers’.  This is definitely an activity that we will revisit, and expand with a wider variety of currency (I can imagine it will become very exciting when we throw some dollar bills in their little hands). :)

So go and have some ‘shopping’ fun with your little ones, and for an extra special treat-invite a friend.  We had ourselves one fun-filled playdate!

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August 25, 2011. Education.

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