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I recently gathered the Christmas toy catalogs and presented them to my kids. My oldest son walked up to me a few minutes later with a big grin on his face.
“What do you want for Christmas?” I asked him.
“An ATM,” he proudly proclaimed.
I couldn’t help but laugh. We talk a lot about money in our house, I’ve been writing about it for fifteen years, and it clearly shows.
The Value of Playing With Money
I started talking with my kids about money when they were very young. In the beginning, we discussed needs versus wants, consumption, purchasing power, and the costs of everyday items. Eventually, we broadened the topics to include debt, interest, compounding, and other more complex topics.
I began our early conversations by pointing out the cost of food at the grocery store. Each time my boys and I picked products from the shelves, we looked at the price tag and compared it to similar items. Then we returned home to play our version of the grocery store.
My children learned about the value of money very early in life through books, games, and toys. I didn’t need to make it overly complicated in the beginning. The simple act of playing with money in real-world scenarios helped them understand the concepts without lengthy lectures.
If you want to teach your children financial concepts, check out the money toys, games, and books below.
Favorite Money Toys
My kids own a handful of different piggy banks, but my favorite, by far, is the Money Savvy Pig. It contains four different compartments so your children can save money with different goals in mind.
I love that it includes a compartment for donating. It’s an easy way to begin discussing the concept of generosity with your children.
Toy Cash Register
There are a lot of toy cash registers available on the market, but none compare to the Pretend & Play Teaching Cash Register by Learning Resources.
This little register contains many fun math problems that help your kids learn each coin’s value and how to add those values together. Both of my children learned to recognize and calculate change at a very young age, thanks to this little machine. It is the best money toy I’ve ever purchased for them.
Last year the boys wanted a way to keep their money locked up, so we upgraded their piggy banks to safes. We chose this Electronic Piggy Bank, and the kids love sliding their money into the slot and using a key code to regain access to it.
After depositing money at the ATM with me earlier this year, my oldest son now wants to upgrade his cash safe to a functional ATM. The boys like this ATM Toy Savings Bank with Motorized Bill Feeder because it looks so realistic.
Favorite Money Books
If you love to read to your children, I have a list of money books for you.
My boys love the colorful illustrations of Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money and Pigs Go to Market: Fun with Math and Shopping. These are fun books that help kids learn about spending and math.
My boys are obsessed with lemonade stands. They love going to the store to buy supplies, making lemonade, greeting customers, and making a profit. Lemonade for Sale is a cute book that introduces kids to money and bar graphs.
If your kids love lemonade stands Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money is also worth a read. It’s a cute story about kids who want to create a lemonade stand during the cold, winter months.
Bread and Jam for Frances was my absolute favorite book growing up, so when I found A Bargain for Frances, I knew my boys and I had to read it together. It’s a story about the complex relationships between money and friendships.
The Berenstein Bears books have always been favorites in our house. In fact, my oldest son cried when he found out his baby brother wouldn’t be a sister. When we asked why he said, “because I wanted to have a sister bear!” Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money and The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense are great for teaching young kids about money.
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, follows Alexander as he spends all of his money on frivolous purchases. My kids enjoyed reading this one because they were already familiar with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
If You Made a Million introduces children to the concept of investing and earning interest. The illustrations are captivating.
You Can’t Buy a Dinosaur with a Dime helps kids understand the concept of intentional spending. It’s a lovely rhyming story about spending and regret.
If your kids like to listen to chapter books, I love Mr. Popper’s Penguins. The story primarily revolves around cute penguins, but money is also an underlying theme throughout the book.
The Toothpaste Millionaire is an interesting story about a boy who wants to save money on toothpaste by creating his own. It introduces kids to the concept of entrepreneurship and starting a business.
Favorite Money Games
The Game of Life
The Game of Life introduces kids to life decisions that can impact your financial future. Do you want to go to college or start working right away? Do you want to have children, buy a big house, or change careers? This game allows parents to create open discussions about life choices and plans.
Monopoly is a great game for teaching kids the concept of money and real estate investing, but did you know there is a version for younger kids called Monopoly Junior?
This is a fun, fast game to play with young kids. Rather than working with thousands of dollars, the currency ranges from $1 to $5 bills. If your kid can count and likes playing board games, this a great introduction to money and money management.
These are our favorite money toys, games and books. What are yours?