A mom asked me, “If I don’t use much cash, why should I even start my kids allowance with cash?” I ran into the same question years ago when I started my kids’ allowances.Even though we ended up using a no-cash system, we spent time with hands-on cash activities to learn how our currency works.
Because I was a credit card and check writing mom at the time, getting cash was inconvenient. But more importantly if I risked not paying my kids allowances on time. I could see me as that unreliable parent muttering, “I’ll pay you later”.
Like most people I don’t like getting paid late (or not at all) and didn’t want my kids to not know for sure if they would get the allowance or not. Or to have to ask repeatedly for something I promised them.
My solution was to grab paper and pencil and write their allowance as a number. That developed into a years-long allowance method that taught my kids how to manage money as a number. Yet I thought it important to give them some hands-on experience with cash as part of my goal to teach them financial skills.
Cash is visible. Cash is something we can see and touch, arrange and count. However, there is no obvious relationship between coins and their value. So bring in games to the rescue.
Playing games with money starts with activities that help kids identify coins and combination up to a dollar. This is math in action with something that kids value.
Here’s a list of games that you can play with money. These are from my book, The No-Cash Allowance.
To do these you will need about seven dollars in change for each child; one hundred pennies, twenty nickel, ten dimes, four quarters, two half dollars, a one dollar bill and a one dollar coin. Note: In 2002 the mint stopped production of half dollars for general circulation and only struck half dollars for collecting purposes.
Activities to teach kids about cash
- Penny Exchange
- What’s my Name
- The Line Up
- Ways to Slice a Dollar
- Change It UP
- The Great Exchange
- Write It Out
- The Best Cashier Ever
Even though kids will learn about money in school, the hands-on practice at home will reinforce the school lessons. My goal was for my kids to be able to complete the following skills check.
- Demonstrate and count out for each denomination the coins needed to equal one dollar.
- Demonstrate mixed combinations of coins that equal one dollar.
- Say (or write) all the money terms for coins up to and including one dollar.
- Explain which of two different coins is worth more.
- Explain which of two different collection of coins is worth more.
- Make change for a dollar for various amount.
Just for fun: There are 294 ways to make change for a dollar using pennies, nickels, dimes, quarter, half-dollars and dollar coins.
Even though your kids may not use much cash, understanding the system behind money transaction makes the written numbers in an account mean more. Learning about cash introduces and reinforces counting and math skills in a real-world setting that makes sense to children. And who doesn’t like playing with money?
Lynne Finch helps parents teach their kids about money from piggy banks to online banking. “It’s time to teach the kids how to manage money they can’t see or touch,” says the author of The No-Cash Allowance. Follow Lynne’s common sense approach for teaching children that money is a number with kids as young as pre-school and continuing through high school.
Lynne Finch, author of “The No-Cash Allowance” will be exhibiting and presenting a seminar at the Wisconsin Parents Association Home Education Conference and Resource Fair May 1-2, Oshkosh.
She will be available to talk with parents at the Resource Fair in Reeve Union on Friday evening from 6 pm to 10 pm and Saturday from 7:30 am to 5 pm.
How much allowance should I give my child? is scheduled for 10:15 am Saturday morning.
In the seminar, parents will look at the benefits of kids having an allowance, fill out a worksheet to help them calculate the right allowance for their child, and learn how to set up a system that will teach their kids good money management skills. Attendees will receive an allowance start-up kit.
Special conference pricing for her book is $10 tax included (discounted from $16.95).
Visit the website http://www.homeschooling-wpa.org/conference to get the location, map, and other conference information.