Monday, January 23, 2012


Most of us introduce our kids to money early, long before the kinder years where they learn to count it.  Money happens all around them.  At first they are content to hold it (or eat it!), then they learn to spend it, and eventually they learn its abstract assigned values often through worksheets or board games or lemonade stands.
The first memory I have of teaching Boo money was with a simple game using spare change.  You hold up the coin if the child can tell you the name they ‘win it’.  Once the names are clear you move to the name and its value.  Once the game gets too expensive you stop playing it.

Children learn unevenly.  Boo’s skills with money (& time) walloped her other math skills.  I decided to let them coast naturally while the others caught up. 
For the past 2 years Boo, short blond hair, thick glasses, round cheeks, 4ft & under, still small enough to fit comfortably in a shopping cart has been calling out the prices in the grocery store like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.  Some days it is funny and some days it’s not.  Then a few weeks back the questions started: Why isn’t there a thirty dollar bill?  Is a two dollar bill still being made?  How much money is there in the United States?  Who decided to make quarters?  Who got to name the money?- they go on and on and on…
This is the ‘jump’ I referred to in my Welcome.  It is the reason we find ourselves happily in the Middles.  I’m not a trained educator & as for child development I have the standard one college course, enough psychology classes for a minor, and then there are the 4 kids I have raised.  All that knowledge and experience leaves me as baffled as the next guy but I do see the change from accepting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers *back (wish there was a better word) to the hard core investigation of a preschooler, back to ‘why?’.  And I have seen it before.   It happens over and over throughout a child’s education, where and when and over what varies.  In fact, I have to laugh, every new college semester I see it happen to the oldest.  She calls squealing about her latest subjects and professors.  That is why I call it ‘jumping’ instead of giving it a direction.  Think of your child’s mind as a glass you fill with drops of water; the glass is filling.  Then suddenly the glass tips over and the water rushes forward filling in any open spaces, consuming every surface in its path.  Once the water has taken its course and run out of momentum you right the glass and begin filling it again.
Boo now needs to know the ‘why’s’ of money it moves us away from math and into history, politics, and economics.  You can see with that list on the class schedule we are no longer in Kansas.

Unit Money/Economics  (for a child already comfortable with the basic values & names of currency, adding & subtracting basic amounts using coins, & shows an interest in deeper understanding of what money is including the historical 'hows' and 'whys'.)
Junior Executive by Whitman (this game is crazy old, we found ours at a thrift store, it is worth hunting down)
Money Bags by Learning Resources (again we found ours second hand missing the money so we use real coins which I highly recommend doing but it is still sold in stores)
Any monopoly game
The Everything Kids’ Money Book by Mayr
One Cent, Two cents, Old Cent, New Cent by Bonnie Worth
The Dollar Bill in Translation by Christopher Forest
Understanding Money Through History by Lori McManus
Money Through the Ages by Tim Clifford
The Kids Guide to Money Cents by K. Thomas
Eyewitness Books Economy by Action & Goldblatt
(Field Trips & Activities)
Homemade Bartering Game based on trading farm goods (we made ours out of simple paper cut outs, set our value system 1 cow = 2 ducks, etc... each of us had our own farm & family to care for then we attempted to barter for our needs.)
True or False, reviewing money facts learned (favorite skill keeper on any topic!)   
Daughters of Utah Pioneer Museum (or any local museum displaying old currency)
The US Mint (via the net)

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