Teaching preschoolers about money

Last week, we were at Grandma’s house when Widget came home all excited about the real! working! cash register! he played with at his friend Callie’s house. She’s quite a bit older, you see, and someone to be admired. He was full of news about this toy, about the money, and the cash drawer, and the real! working! scanner! that beeped and everything. We listened, of course, but didn’t think much more about it.

In the week since, he’s been simply obsessed with coins, change, pretend dollars, and what they mean. We’ve exposed him to the meaning of money, both what it’s worth and what it can buy, but we haven’t done any hard core teaching of the principles yet.

I think it’s time.

Today, he asked me, “What can I do to earn coins?”

I so totally hooked him up with some chores. And, at a coin a chore (small ones for small chores, big ones for bigger chores), he helped us clean the house this morning.

He put the coins in his little bag and carried them around all day. And then he started talking about the cash register again. The one with the scanner. I went online and found it. It is very cool — it does actually have a scanner, and it does actually scan. It’s called the Zillions Talking Cash Register, and, thanks to Grandma, it will be arriving here for his fifth birthday — which is coming up more rapidly than you can imagine (me, the mother of a FIVE year old?).

We’re going to use it as a tool, and teach him how to convert pennies to dimes and nickles to quarters, and teach him what a dollar can buy. We’ll introduce him to the concept of buying that matchbox car he wants with his very own money, and maybe we’ll even start an allowance.


Of course, I’m not the only mom talking to her kid about money this week. Moms with bigger kids are facing back-to-school buying and, well, not buying, and they’ve got a priceless moment in front of them. How do you buy everything you need on a budget? How do you decide what is a need, and what is a want? Since Widget is just entering pre-k, and he’s already told me that he wants a new backpack “when my Diego one wears out,” it looks like we’ll be skipping the back-to-school frenzy.

And that’s good. Because I just blew the wad on a real! working! cash register!

This blog has been linked to the weekend PBN blog blast on teaching kids about money.


3 responses to this post.

  1. I’ll be curious what you think about the cash register once it’s in play.


  2. That is so fun and great to start teaching the concepts of earning and giving money purpose…after all it is only a tool without meaning until we asign the meaning!!

    We are at the Seattle GIft show talking abou tour MOONJAR MONEYBOXES this week – they might be great for you guys too!! The moneyboxes are divided into SAVE SPEND and SHARE and the child is encouraged to cut out pictures and put them on the boxes so they are aiming toward goals in each Saving, spending and sharing. It makes earning more fun when there is a goal!

    (my 11, 14 and 15 year olds still use the Cash register whenever they have a sale or need to look official)



  3. […] and there was much excitement as we played all day together (matchbox cars! outside! counting and a real! working! cash register!) and topped it off with a surprise trip to Rita’s and chocolate cake after […]


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