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Young Children & Earning

Talking with your child about money can go smoother if you keep the conversation age appropriate. The conversation starters and activities here can help you find the words.

Conversations about earning

  • Describe your job to your child
  • Walk through your neighborhood or town and point out people working, like the bus driver or the police officer
  • Talk about people who start their own businesses, like clothing stores or restaurants
  • Encourage your child to imagine how she could run her own business by setting up a lemonade or cookie stand

Activities about earning

Money Sort
Money Sort
Print out this activity sheet and spend time with your child practicing important skills like counting and sorting.
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The activity

Pre-elementary age children are able to play simple matching and sorting games. The game helps children understand the rule for sorting (by shape, color, size, etc.), hold the rule in mind, and follow it. For older toddlers, you can add a twist to a sorting game, such as putting small shapes in a big bucket and big shapes in a small bucket. Children tend to put like with like, so a change is challenging, requiring them to inhibit the expected action and engage their selective attention and working memory.

Set up

Print the piggy bank page. Try printing a few copies and brainstorm for different ways to sort coins. Write the description of the coins to be sorted underneath the piggy bank picture. For example, on one piggy bank page you might put the values of the coins: 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢. Then, on a new piggy bank page, you might write sizes: smallest, next smallest, next smallest, largest. Then, on a new page, you might write colors: copper, silver with ridges, silver with no ridges.

What to do

Use the coins you have on hand, and let your child sort them into categories. U.S. coins can be sorted in many ways: value, color, size, year, design and more.

Once you and your child have the piggy bank pages ready, ask your child to sort the coins according to the labels on each piggy bank. You and your child can take turns sorting the coins. Listen to your child explain his or her thinking – working through the exercise and getting each coin sorted into place is more important than getting the right answer every time. For older children, you might explore the different ways coins add up. You might try to find combinations of coins that add up to 25¢, 50¢ or $1.

Things to talk about

Money is an object we use to buy things. Money can be printed bills or minted coins.

  • Money hasn't always looked like it does today. Long ago, people traded items like shells, beads, or pieces of metal for things they wanted
  • Today, the U.S. Mint makes coins, and the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces U.S. currency notes. Money eventually travels to banks around the country for people to use
  • Money looks different in different places around the world
  • When we buy things online, we’re using money – even though we can’t see or touch it

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Help your child reach money milestones...