How often do you think to yourself, “I wish my kid understood how much things really cost and started appreciating their things?”
Like that brand new winter coat that gets left here there and everywhere and then you’re the one left searching for it or worse, having to buy another one!
It can be annoying to find only one half of a pair of mittens returning home or a lunch bag full of untouched, spoiled food destined for the organics bin.
Understanding the value OF money is an incredibly important concept for kids to understand early on in life, but it can also be difficult for them to understand when their math skills are limited while they are young.
As I’ve mentioned before, they also don’t see a lot of things being physically paid for with money, so can we really blame them for not fully understanding that these things have a monetary value?
If we tell them not to touch something in a department store because it’s “expensive”, how will they know that that means it costs more and has a higher value than something from the dollar store, if they don’t know what the value of money is and how much things are worth?
It’s hard to know where to start, without turning the conversation into a College Economics lecture, but most young kids naturally know how to trade something for what they want, so they already have a basic idea of what value is, even if it isn’t directly related to buying something.
For example, they know how to swap toys with their siblings to get what they want. My 6 year old tries to get toys that he wants, by asking his brother to swap them for two or three other toys, making those appear more appealing and seem more valuable than the one he has in his hand.
Now what he’s doing is kinda sneaky, but we have to let them figure out for themselves, how to play together fairly and not get taken advantage of. My 3 year old figures it out pretty quickly sometimes and so the battle of the brothers begins!
In this episode, I talk a bit about trading and use that as a way to explain value. Kids might trade Hockey, Pokemon, Baseball cards or whatever they are into, and some have a higher value than others. One valuable card might be traded for 3 less valuable ones.
When I was a kid (I’m an early 80’s baby!) I traded marbles and stickers and I know I wasn’t the only one that looked forward to trading those puffy gel, glittery or scratch n sniff stickers to put in my special sticker album with the special laminated pages for easy sticker removal.
Don’t judge me- trading stickers was cool back then and a small sheet of them were expensive, unlike these days where you can pop into a dollar store and get 1000 stickers for $2!
I digress, I only ended up using the marble example in the podcast, because I felt that was a bit more relatable than trading stickers these days, but my point is, your kids probably already have a basic understanding of value.
Did you trade anything as a kid? Stickers, marbles, baseball or hockey cards? My sister remembers trading Cabbage Patch Kids cards/stickers as a kid, and I remember them coming in a shiny packet with a stick of really awful hard gum that hurt your jaw to chew.
Talk to your kids about what you traded with your friends when you were younger, it might be an interesting conversation starter!
I mentioned the lost mittens at the beginning of this post, because that’s something that Kian keeps losing at school. Sometimes he finds them in the lost and found or in his locker, but he’s lost 2 pairs in the last year and I can virtually hear the parents reading this right now, saying “Ugh, yes! the same thing happens in our house all the time…”.
It doesn’t matter if they are labelled or if the gloves are tied to a string looped through the arms of their coat (which by the way don’t always help as they get caught in seat belt buckles or get in the way of putting backpacks on), they still get lost!
I wanted to make sure my son knew that they wouldn’t just magically replace themselves every time he lost them, so while we were at the mall, I took him to a few stores to get some new ones. When we got to the cashiers, the credit card machine wasn’t working, so instead of pulling out the debit card, I used cash.
At this point, he asked if I wanted him pay for them since he had his spending money on him. It’s super cold outside and gloves are a basic need, so no, I didn’t make my 6 year old spend his money on gloves, but maybe if he loses them again I will!
Instead, I gave him $15 cash to hand over to the cashier himself and two things happened. The first was that he had to wait for change, which he doesn’t see happening that often these days, because even the smallest purchases go on our credit cards so we can rack up those loyalty points!
The second, was that he acknowledged he had just spent $13 of my money that I could have spent on something else. He seemed genuinely sorry that he had lost them and I think the process of having to buy them with me, really helped.
As you listen to episode 2 with your kids, you will hear me talk about:
- Money having a value, that means we can use it to buy things.
- That different countries have different names for their money like dollars and cents, pounds and pence and so on.
- That different coins and bills have different values and are worth different amounts.
- That different things that we want to buy, cost different amounts of money.
- That 100 cents has the same value as $1
So what’s next?
After listening to the episode, build on the content by doing a few simple activities.
End of episode activity
There’s something really satisfying about counting money. Kids love sorting and counting money too, so try this next time you need a simple (low mess) activity!
Give your kid a bunch of different coins to look at. Stick to lower value coins as you might not get all of them back from those sticky little fingers!
Ask them to:
- Group the coins together by value, by matching the numbers on the coins, sizes, colours etc.
- Take a look at each different coin and describe the pictures, colour etc and ask them if they can find the value of it- it might be tough for them to see, so point it out yourself a few times, so they know what to look for.
- Count how many coins they have in each group. (Counting objects is a great skill for Preschoolers to practice)
- For each group of coins, ask them to pile them up into a dollars (or pounds etc) worth in value. If they have lots of quarters, they would have several piles of 4 quarters. This will make it easier for them to add up the dollars, by counting how many $1 groups of coins they have.
Whenever my 3 year old has his piggy bank out, we talk about what each coin is worth. He can’t add up the values yet, but he knows that the coin with two colours on it, is worth $2.
We’re working on remembering what the rest are worth and being able to identify them just by looking at them! Remembering that the 2 coloured coin = $2, is an easier one to start with.
Of course, if your little one likes to put things in their mouth- please make sure that this is a supervised activity!
Need something a bit more challenging?
You could say you need a specific amount e.g. $1, and ask them to add up the different coins to make up the amount you ask for. To do this, they will need to remember that 100 cents has the same value as $1, which is something I mentioned in this episode of the podcast.
If your kid has some math skills- challenge them to see how many different combinations of coins they can use, to total up the same amount. e.g if you ask for a $1, they could do 10 x 10 cent coins or 2 x 25 cent coins plus 5 x 10 cent coins. They might need to write down the different combinations.
Tip: If you do this with them, it will make it a lot more fun, exciting and challenging. Until they have confidence in adding up the coins to a specific value quickly, try and do this activity in a calm setting and not when you’re already at the cash register with a massive line up behind you.
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