Grandma Rie’s 2011 Money Camp – Activities and Resources

If you have been following my blog posts, you know that I am keen on teaching my grandchildren about personal finance and that I have started the tradition of holding an annual Grandma’s Money Camp with them to focus on the topic. I’ve posted about what a money camp is, how to prepare for one, and the overall guide I used to actually hold this years camp.

Carwash-sign (1)Know that the camp activities were not my first priority as a grandma. Their safety, building our relationship and having fun were more important – but the intentional focus all week was on learning about money. Each morning we did other things, but after lunch we put on our Money Camp T-shirts and really focused on the below areas.

In this final post about the 2011 Grandma’s Money Camp, I’ll try to give you a glimpse of the activities and resources we used during camp to learn the below concepts.

What is Money?
  • Learn to identify different denominations of US money (coins and bills)
  • Learn values of different denominations (5 nickels make a quarter, etc)
  • Learn the concept of what money is – including forms other than bills or currency (such as checks, credit cards, paypal and etc)
  • Learn how money (currency and coin) is physically made

Handle Money

Early in the day we inspected, touched, counted and played with US bills and currency.

The kids were interested in looking at it – especially since I had some big bills and some coins they hadn’t seen. I had a $100, a $50, some $20’s, a $10, a $5 and a $1 plus a golden dollar, an old silver dollar, 50 cent pieces and one each of the other coins.

While we looked at the pictures on the bills, my son pulled out his camera and showed them some pics he had taken when he traveled to Washington DC on a business trip recently, so they got to see that the images on the bills are real things.

We played with the coins by spinning them, stacking them and counting them. As they handled the paper money, we talked about the serial numbers; the fact that the paper wasn’t paper but actually cotton and linen; and explored the watermark on the bills and the different colors of ink. The 6 year old answered quiz questions on what value each piece of money had in relationship to others and the 3 year old matched like coins.

Find Money Equivalents
To help the six year old with the actual concept of money; we looked at a filled out check, and one of my credit cards and talked about how those are used like cash money.

Watch Internet Videos
Later, each child watched a few internet videos related to money (see resources for a list).

Book Reading
After lunch we read books. The six year old read The Berenstain Bears Big Rummage Sale Electronic storybook while the three year old pushed the sound buttons. I read Flik the Inventor(A bugs life) Volume 1 and The Berenstain bears’ Trouble With Money  iconby Stan and Jan Berenstain.

Play Money Board Games
In the afternoon we played some board games related to money: Payday icon and Cash Flow for Kids. These helped with counting, learning about earning money, and learning how money is spent and invested. Both kids played, but obviously the games were more suited to the 6 year old.

Internet Resources:
My grandson (6) watched this video on how US Dollars are made: His interest was maintained throughout.

My granddaughter (3) watched a couple of  short clips on identification and counting of money including these: Elmo Counting Coins (she played this one over and over!) Ralphie, Maxine and Friend sing about the relationship of coins.  I doubt that she actually learned much from them, but she liked to watch and listen as they were Sesame street. We didn’t get around to watching any of the other good clips I had found. Here are some of them.

What Is Money Used For?

  • Learn that people earn, collect, spend, save, invest and give money
  • Learn that money started with barter
  • Learn that money is limited
  • Learn that you can do more with money than spend it
  • Learn the difference between wants vs needs

Barter Play and Concept Introduction
In the morning, while we got ready for some other activities, we talked about trading stuff – bartering and made a little game of trading toys back and forth. Then we just talked about what money is used for saving, spending, giving, earning. We briefly touched on the fact that some people collect it.

In preparation for an afternoon activity, we started learning what a need was and what a want is.

Saving Money
To talk about saving money, we got out their piggy banks and counted each ones money, then put it back. Later we went to the bank the kids had visited before. I used the excuse of breaking up my $100 so we could use the twenties later, but the purpose was to show and tell to the kids about the bank.

They got a bag of popcorn and a sucker. The teller showed my grandson how her magic pen worked to tell if a bill was authentic or not. We peeked in at the safety deposit box area and talked about what those were and what people keep in them and we talked about how banks keep money safe for people and pay them interest to keep their money.

Wants vs. Needs
As a demonstration and exercise in learning wants vs. needs, we visited Walmart to buy something we needed (loaf of bread and bottles of water). While there we looked at things they wanted (birthday wish lists) and wrote some of them down. Each time the kids found some toy they liked we focused on the fact that it was a ‘want’ and not a need.

As a further demonstration (and just because it was hot too!) we went to McDonald’s to buy something we wanted (ice cream cones).

How Do People Get Money?
  • Learn some of the different careers and jobs people have
  • Learn that some people are business owners
  • Explore how kids can make money
  • Learn what people whom they know do to make money

Book Reading and Discussion
We read several books about jobs and careers – choosing from the below:

Then we just chatted about what Mom and Dad do to make money, how their babysitter makes money and how their teachers make money.

Being a Business Owner – The Car Wash
We talked about different ways kids could make money and they decided to have a car wash.

To make the signs for the yard to notify passing cars of the business, I cut up a big card board box. The three year old used the flap sections to make multiple sign’s with her magic markers and crayons.

The six year old and I worked on the big sign that said CAR WASH. I outlined the words and he did all the fill and color work. When complete I used a staple gun to attach a wooden stake so we could put the sign up. My grandson picked the spot in the yard for the big sign and helped hammer it in. The three year old chose where to put up her signs in the yard.

As we worked on the sign, I talked about marketing and advertising and told them that is what our signs were doing.

Also while we were making the signs, we talked about pricing – deciding what price to charge. The six year old suggested twelve dollars, until I pointed out that someone could just go up to the car wash and get it done for about $5. Then he came up with $4.

We set up a play cash register to hold the money and got out the hose, some rags, and an old bucket. The kids put their suits on. Each time a car went by (not very many went by) we yelled ‘car wash’. No one stopped. So we discussed the fact that you have to go where your customers are and that when they got bigger, maybe we would take our car wash somewhere there are more customers.

Of course grandma, mom and dad all wanted to buy a car wash so the kids earned $12 between them by having the car wash!

Earn, Save, Spend
  • Let them earn some money by doing a small chore
  • Have them decide if they wanted to save it, spend it or give it away (or some combination)
  • Do what they decided

Since they had earned money the prior day, they decided to shop today. The 6 year old wanted to shop for Nerf guns. We talked about finding the lowest price for what he wanted and decided to try to find a thrift store the Dad had mentioned, but were unsuccessful. My granddaughter enjoyed the activities but didn’t express preferences on things for which to shop.

Book Reading and Comparison Shopping
When we got home, we read Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday iconby Judith Viorst. Then my grandson and I did some online shopping on the Nerf site and compared prices to what we had seen at Walmart.

Review – What Is Money
The kids played with their money from the car washes the day before for awhile, counting and sorting it – reinforcing our first camp day which focused on what is money.

Being a Business Owner – The Store
About 2 we decided to start a pretend play business – to help them learn how people can earn money by being in business.

They picked a store. We had the toy cash register, my granddaughter’s toy shopping cart, all of my grandson’s nerf guns, money from the monopoly game, the bag of coins I brought, more of their toys, DVDs, computer peripherals, canned goods and a bunch of other stuff for sale.

My grandson served as the (very eager) nerf demo/sales person when I shopped. The three year old, however, was the extreme shopper! She had a purse and the shopping cart. She would load up the cart with things to buy, then come to the register (which I was running). She would pay with play money, I would bag it and then she would take it into the parents room, put her change in Mom’s shoe then come back out to shop some more. Once in a while she would bring stuff back out to re-stock the store.

They both helped price the goods, using red circle stickers. 1 circle = 1 dollar. The six year old priced one of his Nerf guns at a million dollars, then decided he needed to lower the price.  We did make an exception to the one circle = 1 dollar to price the million dollar nerf gun!

They were both really into this pretend play business. They played and learned about: jobs in a store; paying money for goods; pitching a sale to a customer; customer service; pricing; inventory; and re-stocking.

Book Reading
Later that afternoon we got out the sticker book “At the Market – a Language Discovery Sticker Book” This is actually a book to teach Spanish/English words but we used it to talk about what is sold in the market and of course, they just had fun with the stickers.

After supper, they washed another car!

Money Camp Participant Recognition

We all put on our money camp T-shirts, gathered in a circle on the floor with an audience of parents, uncles and grandparents and reviewed what we had done and learned each day in Money Camp. They received paper award certificates and candy!

I used Open Office – presentation software to create the paper award certificates.

Successful First Year of Camp

All in all, the kids seemed to have fun, learn a bit about the concepts and I had a great week with my grandchildren!

I wrapped it up with a written report to the parents along with a few suggestions on some ways for them to continue teaching the concepts through the year.

What Do You Think I Should Plan for Next Year’s Grandma’s Money

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