DIY Math: Teach Your Kids How to Make Change

Children are living in a world of credit and debit cards here&s some creative ways to help them understand money and how to make change.
By Jennifer Hogan
Aug 09, 2016

Ages

4-10

Cute little Caucasian boy saving coins in a glass jar at wooden table

Aug 09, 2016

Today, we live in a world of credit and debit cards. Our children have very little interaction with actual money, which means they don't readily encounter the idea of making change. This is a skill that is sometimes taught in the classroom but rarely enforced in our kids' everyday life. As a teacher, I always try to emphasize and discuss math skills that my students will use daily, whether it be calculating tax or tips, reading data correctly, finding total costs, and of course, making change. Many students learn at a young age how to count change and dollar amounts and find totals. However, calculating change can be a very challenging task for them.

A great summer (or any season) project is to bring this concept to reality for your child. Below are a few fun, creative ways to help your kids total costs using dollars and change, as well as calculate and make change.

1. Create a family coin jar. Use it to collect all loose change on daily basis. As a family, create a list of activities and outings that you could do together with the change you collect. Have your kids research the cost of each event and take a family vote. Once you decide on an activity and determine its total cost, kids can take turns adding up the change that has been collected and figuring out how much more money is needed to reach the family goal. The totaling can be done daily or weekly. Once you have reached your goal, you can enjoy your family outing together!

2. Money War. Using index cards to create a deck of "money cards." On each card draw different pictures of dollar and coin amounts (making these age appropriate, so your child doesn't get frustrated). Once you have created your deck, deal all the cards out. Each player will turn over their top card and find the total dollar amount on that card. Whichever player has the most money wins all the cards for that round. Play until all the cards are gone — the winner is the player with the most money!

3. Design a budget for each of your children. Give them an imaginary budget that they can spend on summer shopping or back to school shopping. The budgets can be the same or different depending on the children’s age. Using catalogs, newspapers, magazines or going online, kids can "shop" at their favorite clothing or sports stores. They can decide on their own what they want to buy and if they have enough money. They'll need to create a shopping list with how much each item costs and how much money they will have left over.

4. Scoop of change. Put all your loose spare change in a large bowl. (You can also use play money if you have it.) Have each player use a scooper or ladle and "scoop" as much change as they can onto a paper plate for the first round. Then have the player count up their change and record the total on a piece of paper. After five rounds, add up the total. Whoever has the highest amount wins! As an extra challenge, have them determine how much more money they need to get to $20.

How do you help your kids get comfortable making and counting change? Share your strategies with us on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.

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