Helping Kids Make Cents: Part 1

Lessons for Life – Helping Kids Make Cent$ Part I


By Sheila Stark,PHEc

Play is kids work, from the youngest toddler to the teen. It will look different at various ages and stages of development. However, engaging the mind and body in a variety of activities stimulates development in areas such as:

  • Gross and fine motor skills
  • Language skills
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Social skills
  • Personal well-being

Well then, what better way to work on math and money skills than through play? Continuous practice, through play in this case, will help enforce the mastery of money concepts over time. So why not have some serious FUN!!! Here are five creative ideas to spark some interest.

  1. Play store – Set up a mock store with items around the house, food models, or have pictures of items to buy. Have prices clearly marked using pictures of coins and/or numbers/symbols. Use play money to buy purchases. (the internet has printable play money, specify Canadian coins)
  1. Sort Coins – Whether you empty a piggy bank or a pail full of coins, have kids sort by coin size, value, color or name.
  1. Play money games – A great activity to reinforce money skills and build on quality family time. There are so many to choose from. Selections will vary with different ages. Some of our family favourites include: Money dominoes, The Game of Life, Hockey Monopoly. Look for junior editions too. (the internet has many interactive money games too)
  1. Read money books – Our family loves books. It is a quieter activity and allows for quality time with parents or older siblings. There is an endless list of titles and authors to choose from. Take a trip to your local library, neighborhood bookstore or your own home collection. A few possibilities to get you started include:
    • Seuss – One cent, Two cents, Old cent, New cent: All about Money
    • The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money (Jan & Stan Berenstain)
    • Alexander, Who Used To Be Rich Last Sunday (Judith Viorst)
    • The Penny Pot (Stuart J. Murphy)
    • How Much is a Million (David Schwartz)
    • Pigs Will Be Pigs:Fun with Math & Money (Amy Axelrod)                                                                 
  1. Recite money riddles, rhymes and poems. One of the most popular poems that I always remember is written below.   The author is unknown.

Penny, penny easily spent, 

Copper Brown and worth 1 cent. 

Nickel, nickel, thick and fat,  

You’re worth 5 cents. I know that.

Dime, dime little and thin

I remember that you’re worth ten.

Quarter, quarter big and bold,

You’re worth 25 I am told!

A penny’s worth 1,

A nickel’s worth 5,

A dime is worth 10,

And a quarter worth 25.

Hey, Honey Bunny,

I know my money, money!

Money basics are a life skill. Enjoy these 5 creative ways to have fun while building money basics with the children in your life.

Sheila Stark is a professional Home Economist with over 20 years of experience. She works as a Human Ecology Specialist Teacher in the areas of Food & Nutrition, Clothing, Housing & Design, Family Studies, Life Skills, & Consumer sciences. She has experience working with children from pre-school through grade 12.