Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Enriching Education: Three pretend games to teach kids about money

By Radha Rai
Money! One of the most valuable and practical skills you can teach your kids and you don’t need to be a financial wiz to do it. You can start by teaching them about counting change, then adding bills. For better results- it’s easier to first teach kids about counting by 5s and 10s. As kids grow older they will start realizing that a lot of math is about counting in 5s and 10s (and rounding). The focus here is to teach them about money – math is being taught at schools – this will be practice! If your kids are good with odd numbered additions as well – then awesome! Let’s get started!
Playing money games with kids is awesome. You will actively engage them in conversations about money and help answer a lot of their questions. Here are some pretend games that you could play:
  • Create Play/Pretend money: You could use monopoly money or coins, but it’s fun to create money out of crayons and markers! Important part is that you make coins of different sizes and shapes for different denominations (coins are different sizes and shapes and even colors!). Then involve kids in writing values on the various coins and bills. If your kids are comfortable with adding non-5s and 10s, then include such bills ($1 for example) into the mix as well.
  • Let the kids be the shopkeeper [30 mins – 1 hour]: They have already seen you shop. Now give them a taste of what kinds of decisions a shopkeeper has to make. Make a shop out of their toys. Ask them to attach a price to each toy. Discuss: why a certain item is more valuable than other (this teaches them the concept of value – a small item could be extremely valuable compared to a large item). You should also set a goal of how much money the shopkeeper needs to make to win. Negotiate while buying the toys. Push them to understand negotiation applies to shops as well. At the end count the amount of money they made. Offer them a cup (or more) of ice cream / dessert if they reached their goal.
  • You be the shopkeeper [30 mins – 1 hour]: Your kids have seen you shop in stores. The problem with letting them observe fixed-ticket buying behavior in stores is that they do not learn that negotiation applies to money transactions. In this game, give them the taste of what it takes to be a shopper. Have a clear budget. Within the budget have a clear list of items they need to buy. Keep the prices as multiples of 5s and 10s if the child is not yet comfortable with complex prices (remember to focus on money and not get caught up with the math). Ask them to estimate how much money will be needed to buy everything on their list. Now ask them to shop. Let them ask questions. Consciously mark prices in such a way that their budget doesn’t allow them to buy everything. Keep a pencil and paper to track the kids overall spend and savings. Encourage them to negotiate. In the end look at the estimation and discuss how they can estimate their budget better.
Done? Great! In just a few hours you have improved the financial literacy level of your child. Now repeat – as repetition is another important tool for kids to remember what they learn in life.
Miss Fingy Add with Bubbles game teaches kids to count in 5s and 10s. Check it out, it’s a free download from Apple storeGoogle Play & Amazon!
Radha Rai is first and foremost a brand new mom!  She is also a financial professional, community volunteer, author and entrepreneur, having earned her MBA from The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. She was born in Bihar, India where the illiteracy rate is very high amongst girls. She had to go against the societal grain to get herself and her younger siblings educated. Radha continues to be very passionate about promoting other women and girls. In fact, she recently combined her two passions, finance and literacy, to publish a new book, Liktoon’s Boat, with help from her husband, Abhijit. Liktoon’s Boat is an endearing and educational book to help promote financial literacy among children.
For more information on Liktoon’s Boat visit, or visit Rai’s blog at’s Boat is available at Amazon as well as other fine booksellers. 

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