How to teach your child budgeting using role play

Role play is a great teaching tool for teaching children about money. Children need to learn what money is, how it is used, its value and importance. Teaching your child budgeting is the first step towards enabling them to become responsible spenders. You should start by letting them know that you work to get paid.

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Share what it means to earn a salary, when you get paid and where the money goes to. It is a good idea to let them know that the bank is simply a place where your money is safely kept. This will enable your child to understand why they need to be responsible with money.

How to teach your child budgeting using role play

A good way of teaching your child basic budgeting is using role play. You need the following:-

  • Classic Play Money Set
  • Snacks & Sweets Food Cart

1. Classic Play Money Set

How to teach your child budgeting using role playThe set comes with familiar looking paper bills and plastic coins. The stash of cash conveniently stores inside the wooden cash drawer box and has compartments for different denominations of money for easy storage.







2. Snacks & Sweets Food Cart

How to teach your child budgeting using role playThe snacks & sweets food cart comes with two play menus i.e. ‘Hot Dogs’ and ‘Ice Cream.’  Children can easily reach inside the see-through sliding doors to serve what a customer will order.

How to play

This game is ideal for a group of children and two adults. Let the children know you are going to play a game with them. Pretend you are their boss and that they are working for you to earn an income. Their dad or another adult will play the role of a bank or ATM.

  • Ask the children to identify the individual coins and bills. Discuss each coin or bill by pointing out its value and worth.
  • Explain the similarity between the objects used as toys and the real things they see at home, school, store or in the bank.
  • Ask the children to put the money back into the tray, placing each set of coins and bills in the appropriate space.
  • Make a pattern using a variety of coins. Ask the child to replicate the pattern, name each coin and determine the total dollar value of the pattern.
  • Place a small group of coins on a flat surface, making sure there are examples of each denomination. Ask each child to take turns in sorting the coins so all the like coins are together. Then ask him/her to place the coins in order by value from lowest to highest.
  • Repeat the activity with the bills.

Working for pay

  • Set up the snacks and sweets food cart together
  • Have them take stock of what they have and the money in their possession. Explain that this is how they will calculate their profit at the end of the game
  • Explain that this is what a food vendor does every day before customers come to buy ice cream and hot dogs
  • Divide the money amongst the children and have them come to buy different things at the food cart
  • The one who sells needs to keep the money in the drawer while the ones who are buying need to draw out a budget of what they are going to spend
  • Have every child note down how much they have and ask them to deposit it with the bank

Time to withdraw

  • Having known how much each child has, ask the children what they would like to buy
  • Find out if they remember where their money is kept
  • Ask them to draw out a budget on what they are to buy with their money
  • Have them proceed to the ATM where they are going to make their requests known
  • The ATM (Dad or another adult) can hand over money to the child who has enough money in the bank. He can also say, “insufficient funds” for those who don’t have enough money
  • Tell them that they each represent a family and how they deal with money safeguards or endangers their family
  • Ash each child what it feels like having or failing to get what their families need

Playing this game can be a great way of introducing the idea of budgeting. Much as you will be using toys, papers and plastics, your children should know that these are substitutes for what happens in the real world. They will learn, first hand, that making money is not as easy as it is to withdraw it through the bank or ATM. It takes a lot of effort, energy and time.

You also need to use cash so your child can see it is real money. This was, you will be leading by example. By learning through role play, your child will be able to learn, in a fun way, how to deal with money issues. It will also encourage them to ask questions about money as well as learn responsible spending.


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