Teaching your kids about money will set them up with a vital life skill, and since becoming a mum it’s something that I want to focus on to ensure my kids have the best chance of success.
It has been shown that most people in their 20’s who are competent money managers were taught about money by their parents.
Of course it is up to you what you want to share with your children in terms of what you earn, what debt you have etc, but teaching them about what it means to earn money and save or invest money will lay a great foundation for them.
I have put together a list of 15 fun and engaging activities to do with your kids.
In general the activities would suit children aged 4 – 12 years old but you just might need to adapt some of the activities depending on your child’s age.
Decorating Money Jars
A great activity to start with younger kids is to create Spend, Save and Share jars. When giving your child money try and give it to them in change so they can decide with some guidance from you how much to put ineach jar.
To get them excited about the process get them involved in decorating their jars. I suggest picking up three cheap jars from a discount dollar store, alternatively some empty pasta jars or even baby formula containers can work just as well.
To get started you can download my Spend, Save, Share labels, and then let the kids decorate with stickers, pieces of ribbon or any other craft materials you might already have around the house.
Coins and Crayons
This is a nice, easy and fun way for the kids to learn about the different coins. Simply place a range of different coins underneath a piece of paper and use different coloured crayons to rub over the top of the coin.
Have your child study the coin and identify the amount they can see as well as what images they can identify.
It’s also a good chance to discuss that the size of the coin doesn’t determine the value.
I remember when I was younger I went to the USA and handed out some Aussie coins to a class of American kids who would have been about 10 years old. It was funny to see the 50 cent pieces being the most popular, even though they could have scored themselves a $2 coin worth four times as much.
The Sorting Game
This is another one that is good for younger children as it is quite simple to master. Simply get a decent amount of loose change and let your kids sort them into different piles for each denomination.
My daughter at the moment absolutely loves building towers out of her Lego and blocks. So we make a similar game with the different sized coins to see which tower she can make the highest. As we are playing we talk about how much each one is worth.
Shopping role play
This is a simple and fun activity you can start at an early age. My three year old is really into role playing at the moment so we pretend to play shop when we hang out in her cubby house. Ýou can use real or pretend money and give your children coins to the value of a few dollars. Place some labels on a range of their toys (I have included some in my kids activity packs) with different monetary values and then they can work out which ones they can afford to buy.
Whilst my daughter is only just learning to count, so math is out of her league right now, she is still becoming aware that things have different dollar values. With slightly older children they will be able to practice math as well.
It is a good idea to not just get the correct money for their purchases but to also give them change as well, which helps them understand why when you are at the shops you sometimes get money back.
I really love these little cash registers which you can buy online, otherwise we picked a cute one up from Kmart for my daughter.
As an extension of the shopping role play, you can have your children help you prepare your real life shopping list and go through any catalogues together and check if there are any specials on items you would normally buy.
For older children, when you are at the shops you could ask them to see if they can work out which one of a product is the best value. This is nice and easy when the pricing labels feature the unit pricing amount.
Create a Savings Chart
If your child is looking to save up for something that will take a bit of time to reach their goal, creating a savings chart can be a great motivator.
The best way I find to do this is open a word document and insert a Clip Art illustration. You can print out the picture and then divide it up into increments depending on the value of the savings goal.
Your child can then colour in part of the picture as they reach each mini-goal so they can visually see how far away they are from reaching their target.
If you would prefer to have a ready made chart, I have included one in my kids activity booklets which you can download to access.
Going to work
From a young age kids see and know that their parents go to work. With little kids they see work as taking you away from them, but they don’t really understand why.
So making what is largely seen as an invisible process of earning money and then paying for expenses understood goes a long way to helping kids understand that you only get things you want or need after you have earned the money to buy them.
My daughter understands that mummy gets dressed up in the morning and she asks me “are you going to work”, after answering yes this is quickly followed up with her favourite word “why?” This opens up the chance to explain that
So this activity is similar to the shopping one detailed above, but you encourage through role play for your child to think of an idea for what they would like to do for work.
It could be completing chores around the house, baking cupcakes to sell, pretending to be a chef and mum and dad come to the restaurant for dinner, the list is endless.
Some of them might need some help from mum and dad so just make sure you choose things that are age appropriate.
Read books about money
Reading is a great way to engage your child in a conversation about money by presenting it in a entertaining way. Some of my favourites books that teach kids about money include the ever popular Dr. Suess with his book called One Cent, Two Cent, Old Cent, New Cent, as well as Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday and Bunny Money.
Write a wish list
This is for slightly older kids who are able to write or you could help your younger children to draw pictures or you can write the list for them based on what they tell you.
This activity is similar to when some children might write a list for Santa, instead this list is of things your child wants to do with their money.
Spending time with them to work out which items on the list they want the most, helps to rank them in priority as to what they are wanting the most.
Find old toys to sell or donate
If your place is anything like mine we have ended up with a room overrun by toys. A few times a year it is good to have your children go through their toys and anything they have outgrown and can’t be handed down to younger siblings should be gathered up.
Work together with your child to determine if the items are able to be re-sold or if they should be donated. There a lots of local buy and sell groups popping up on places like Facebook which I find are a good option as you don’t need to pay for postage and the person who makes the purchase usually picks up the item from you.
Have your child help with getting their items ready to sell and if they are old enough let them help to take the photos. If you are comfortable with it, let your child keep some or all of the proceeds of the sale (but be sure to recommend they save some of it).
Playing a board game can be a good idea to help introduce money and investing concepts in an interactive and fun way. Monopoly teaches lessons around paying rent and utilities, as well as the rental income from owning properties.
Some of my favourite memories as a kid is playing Monopoly whilst on school holidays with my sisters. Who knows it may have been the seed that was planted to start me on my property investing journey.
This game needs a pile of coins as well as a dice to play. The goal is to collect the right coins that add up to $2.50. Each player takes their turn to roll the dice and take a coin according to the details below:
1 – 5 cents
2 – 10 cents
3 – 20 cents
4 – 50 cents
5 – One dollar
6 – Miss a turn
The winner is the player who reaches exactly $2.50 first. If by taking a coin the player would end up over the $2.50 amount they miss their turn. Once you have played it a few times you can change the dollar amount to anything you like.
Place a 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c piece into a container. Have your child pull one coin out at a time and identify the number on the coin to determine the number of times they are to do an activity.
For example, the could draw out the ten cent piece so you ask them to do 10 star jumps. Now drawing out the 50 cents is going to be a little bit challenging so the exercise might have to be something simple like 50 hand claps or even standing on one foot for 50 seconds.
We find this is a fun one for all of the family to get involved in and take turns doing. My three year old loves making daddy to do push ups whilst she lies on his back so he is not quite as much of a fan of this game than we are.
In this one we place a plastic bowl on the floor and take about 5 big steps backwards (you can vary this depending on the age of your child). We take turns throwing coins and whoever gets one in the bowl we record the amount on a piece of paper. Once we run out of coins we tally up the winner by who got the most coins in the bowl.
Watch a movie together
There are a few kids movies out there that have subtle money lessons tied into them. Whilst they aren’t always the main message of the story it can still prompt a discussion.
For example, my daughter at the moment is really into the Toy Story series. In Toy Story 2 Woody learns he is a famous star of an old television show and has the chance to be the main attraction in a museum. But he soon realises that he is not willing to trade his friends for fame. This can teach your children that there are some things (such as your friends and family) that are priceless.
If you want to continue to make learning about money fun for your kids, check out my age appropriate activity booklets that are available now for your kids to enjoy.