Parents and caregivers may wonder when to start teaching young kids about money. Although there is no “right” time, starting early makes the most sense!
Even at two or three years of age, children can start learning about money through their everyday family activities. Going to the store and talking about buying groceries, toys, and clothes is a start.
Explain to your kids the uses of money, such as paying for food, clothes, or books. Keep it simple, but talk about needs and wants, buying and spending.
They're sure to test your skills when they ask to buy some candy or a toy that is conveniently located right at the register!
As your kids get older, playing “store” or “restaurant” is a great way to blend money games and play.
Telling vs. Teaching
Talking about money should become a regular part of your family’s routine. But there is a difference between talking about and teaching your kids about money and other relevant financial topics.
As parents, grandparents, and caregivers you may be too busy to create simple money lessons and the materials to go with them.
Or you may not be sure what’s appropriate for kids of different ages. Creating engaging lessons and money games is challenging.
Keep in mind all children are different and your child’s needs will determine what works best for them. You may need to skip past a topic they already understand or go back and review the basics.
Building a strong foundation is the key to helping children understand money. Below are some great products and free resources that may make the job of teaching about money a little easier and more fun.
Money Games and Activities for Kids
Board and Card Money Games
Financial Peace Junior Kit: Teaching Kids How to Win with Money
Financial Peace Junior Kit: Teaching Kids How to Win with Money is a resource developed by money guru Dave Ramsey. It teaches young children that money comes from work and about the importance of giving, saving, and spending. Kids learn about money and gain math skills in a fun and exciting way, rather than by being intimidated by it. It’s a family activity for children ages 3-12.
Learning Resources Money Bags Coin Value Game
Money Bags Coin Value Game by Learning Resources helps school-age kids learn how to collect, count, and exchange money. Teachers and parents find that students quickly engage with the math game and forget that they are “learning” rather than playing! It can easily be added to a nighttime homework routine or into a math center rotation at school to motivate kids to learn about money!
Learning Resources Buy It Right Shopping Game
When it comes to games for kids, Learning Resouces is a popular choice! In the Buy It Right Shopping Game, children and students age 6+ practice basic money management. They learn about the different bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies as they grow their money skills. Kids practice real-life skills such as buying and selling items and making change in this counting game. While it comes with a steeper price tag than many games, parent reviews say it is worth the money because it is multi-level. Different concepts can be taught and reinforced over the years as your child develops new skills and interests.
The classic money game Payday is for kids 8 and up. Kids learn how to get from “payday” to the end of the month while taking care of all their money needs in between. Payday is a quick socially interactive money and math game you can play in about 15 minutes. It’s a fun way for parents to connect with kids while helping them build their financial literacy!
The Game of Life Junior
If you played board games growing up, there’s a good chance you spent hours playing The Game of Life. The junior version for kids 5 and up gets high marks from parents as a simple and engaging game that is fast-paced enough to keep a young child’s attention. It isn’t a “watered-down” version of the classic game. It is vacation-themed and allows kids to make choices throughout their journey. Kids earn (or lose) money as they pick up Animal Action cards in their quest to win the game. They’ll get to show off their favorite animal moves for some added fun too!
Monopoly Junior Board Game
The Monopoly Junior game is just like the classic Monopoly game, but it's recommended for players aged 5-8. It's fast, simple, and full of surprises. Kids choose their favorite Junior token and learn how to pass Go, buy properties, and collect rent. Single banknotes keep the transactions fast and easy, with classic Monopoly fun.
Lakeshore Allowance Game
In the fast-paced Allowance Game, players perform a chore to earn money but forget to do homework, and they lose a turn! This money skills-building math game, designed for players aged 5-11, involves racing around the game board performing chores and collecting allowances. Players then save it or spend it on things they want while learning how to handle money, make change, understand money values, and more.
Exact Change (2nd Edition)
The award-winning and educational game, Exact Change will teach your children to count money while having fun. Exact Change combines an excellent teaching lesson with fast-paced action for the whole family to love. The winner discards all their cards first by matching the color of the last card played, by matching the currency value (play a penny on a penny), or by making Exact Change – a way to discard multiple cards that add up to the value of the last card played. If the previous discard shows a quarter, the exact change is made by playing two dimes and a nickel – allowing you to discard three cards instead of just one! For ages 6 + up
Kids love playing store, and with this cash register toy they can practice counting money and making change. This interactive play set includes an electronic cash register, with play bills and coins, debit card, receipts, and even an open and closed sign. Plus, it uses English, French and Spanish languages. For ages 3 and up.
You don't need to spend money on toys or games to teach money to your kids. But the right ones can help build their math and money skills while having fun!
Check out our list of the 12 Best Money Apps for Kids too!
Online Money Activities
PBS Learning Media
The PBS Kids Lab is full of online resources for kids, and here you'll find almost 200 free money games, videos, and hands-on and interactive activities for children ages 4 -12. You can also filter your search by highlighting specific grade ranges.
Games are designed to teach children to add different combinations of dollar bills and coins while shopping, providing change, solving problems, and performing simple reasoning and analysis.
Smart Money Commanders™
Financial literacy is the focus of this interactive educational theater for kids age 3-10.
Creators of the program Debbie (a CPA) and Phyllis (a theater creative), bring Ruby’s Troupe in to help your children get smart with money.
What is Ruby’s Troupe? It’s a theater troupe of over 80 puppets and other amazing helpers sharing important messages with children.
After doing live shows and being asked over and over by parents and grandparents how to get this message to more kids, Smart Money Commanders was born!
Debbie described the programs as being “part Mr. Rogers, part Muppets, and part Dora the Explorer” during our Women Who Money interview. You can read more about Debbie, Phyllis, and Ruby’s Troupe at the National Financial Educators Council website.
Debbie and Phyllis bring an incredible amount of experience to Smart Money Commanders, and they have a fantastic mission with this product. A goal to “positively impact 1 million children with life-empowering skills” over the next five years.
Talk about wanting to make a difference!
They are donating 90% of their net profits to charities globally, including nonprofits and foundations which promote financial literacy. That’s a mission and pledge the Women Who Money team supports 100%! (We have no financial relationship with this product or its developers.)
Check out the 6 week Smart Money Commanders course here. You’ll see the weekly financial lessons focus on Saving, Needs and Wants, Budgeting, Savvy Shopper, Chores and Work Ethic, and Giving and Charity.
There's also a graduation celebration at the end of the money course. You'll find three free previews and handouts available to view.
You only need one course for a family because Debbie and Phyllis have included materials for children of different ages.
They also provide parents with the “top secret” details for each lesson. These are guided questions to start conversations and information parents can use as talking points with their kids.
An online forum is available to parents for ongoing communication and support on family money topics. You can visit the Ruby’s Troupe website to learn more and access free materials!
Looking For Games for Kids Who Are Older?
- What Money Games And Activities Are Best For Teens?
- What Are The Best Money Books For Teens And Young Adults?
- An Allowance System That Works [Greenlight Review]
Updated Dec 2020