Teaching preschool children economics

GTT – Do you have a change jar? Do you carry around heavy coins? These can be a source of easy and fun economic activities for young children.

Take out the change jar of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters when children need a new quiet activity. Be sure your children know not to put money in their mouth and continue to watch them. It’s also a good idea to wash hands after handling money.

Make a game out of sorting the coins into piles according to denomination. Younger children can use shape, color and size to determine the correct pile. While working together, mention the names of the different coins. Line up each type of coin and count how many are in each category. Which group has the most coins? Which has the fewest? Count the pennies one by one. Older kids can practice counting the nickels and dimes by fives and tens. Show how to write the cent and dollar signs.

Sorting things by similarities is a very useful skill for reading, science and math. Teach young children to count by touching each object. By teaching coin names, we are helping children to understand the monetary system.

Adults can talk about how people earn money and how your family uses money to buy things. The Savvy Pig savings banks help children collect coins and watch their money disappear when spent. They are divided into save, spend, donate, and invest to help teach children to save and give to charity. The Money Jar program is another. These help children learn early about choices and opportunity costs. The money people spend on one choice is not available for other things.

Use a magnifying glass to study pictures, numbers, and words on coins. What do they mean? Why are they on the coins? State quarters are especially interesting.

Look in the paper or at stores to see how much things cost. Children can make simple copies of the coins by rubbing over the surface of the metal.

Older children will like to play an exchange game where they can trade pennies for nickels and dimes from a pile of coins.

Simple games are based on “heads or tails.” Cover three coins with cups, one being tails. Move them around and ask children to pick up the cup with the tails coin. Teach children to flip a coin and call heads or tails similar to a football game. Use heads or tails to decide who goes first.

A favorite economics activity is playing store. Children set up a store, create or use real coins, determine or negotiate prices, and sell toys to each other just for fun.