“I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.” -The Beatles
So there are those moments as a parent when you walk through a store with your kids and they spot some glorious item that is the most amazing thing they have ever ever seen and they MUST have it. And then you begin the dance of how to talk them out of it in some way. Some how you have to convince them that you are leaving the store without this most amazing item ever and it will be okay, despite the quivering lip or raised pitch to their voice. A good friend of mine once told me that for a long time, her kids actually thought that toy stores were more like toy museums, where you go to admire toys but not actually buy them and take them home. Apparently, this magical story worked until a grandparent unlocked the power of buying a toy. It was a good run while it lasted, I suppose. From some time early fall until December 25th I use the excuse “put it on your list” to deter purchasing every random want. And oh does that list grow and grow. I make many attempts to encourage him to think of things to give his loved ones rather than focusing on what he would receive. I also remind him that just because you put something on a want list doesn’t always mean you get it.
But after the holidays have passed us by and I find him to still be in the same gimme, gimme frame of mind, I have started talking about the concept of saving his own money to buy things that he feels extremely drawn to. He had received a few bucks for his birthday that has been sitting in his piggy bank for some time. I have yet to construct my opinion on giving an allowance. It’s on my to do list to research the pros and cons of an allowance and best ways for kids to go about earning (or not earning?) money. I want him to have a healthy relationship with earning, saving and donating money. For now, with the exception of gifts, he is content collecting money in a treasure hunt type way. He has taken to collecting every nickel, penny and dime he “finds” around the house (read: takes from mine or Dada’s desk or finds buried deep in our coat pockets)
We have been having a lot of conversation about what money buys vs what money cannot buy. He has asked a lot of questions about how we get our money, what we spend our money on, where we keep our money. While shopping, we talk about the price of things, and discuss what is a small amount of money and what is a large amount of money. He’s also starting to recognize the dollar and cent sign. With this new found interest in money, I decided to follow his lead and begin offering Big Brother some opportunities to explore and familiarize himself with coins. We first started with the simple task of naming and sorting coins by their types into individual bowls. We talked about the pictures that appeared on each side, compared the sizes, widths, and color. I am casually mentioning their value, but beyond the penny and nickel, Big Brother’s concept of the amount of things is still a bit fuzzy. He’s capable of counting to 100 with assistance and has one-to-one correspondence to objects up to about 10-15 and then it begins to get confusing. So for now we’re focusing on recognizing and naming coins and if the value is picked up along the way, great.
After his coins were sorted, he placed them in their corresponding beginning letter of their name…so P for penny, N for nickel and so on. For the first time doing this, I directed him to put the pennies on the P and the nickels on the N, but my hope is that when I reintroduce this next time, he will be able to identify the letter each coin belongs to on his own. This was really helpful for him to remember the names of the coins later on when we talked about it. Turns out, the nickel is a hard coin to recognize and remember. Every time we come back to the nickel, he always says, “Tell me its letter again?” and once I give him the letter N, he can remember it.
Later in the week he asked to “play more coin games” and since he’s also had a strong interest in patterns, I decide to use the coins to create and copy patterns. First we were coming up with patterns together and then it merged into a game in which he would close his eyes, I would make a surprise pattern (anything with a surprise factor is a winner in his book) and then he would try to copy my pattern. We took turns surprising each other with patterns. It was his idea to make it “a little bit tricky” by not only copying the type of coin in the pattern but also noticing if the coin was head or tails up. Speaking of heads/tails, a coin toss has been the method of choice to make lots of decisions these days. Thrilling every time. Little One wanted in on the action of pattern making and kept saying, “Eyes closed, Mama. Surprise!” Cuteness.
Big Brother has a heavy art making focus these days. Most of our day is spent with crayons, scissors, and glue in hand. In fact, I can’t recall a day in which some art creation did not take place. I decided to incorporate our exploration of coins into his art with some coin rubbing and collage.
During our trip to the library this week we found some great books on the concepts of money, both nonfiction and fiction selections. Jenny Found a Penny by Trudy Harris is a story about a little girl who is gathering and earning money, working her way to a dollar with pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars to buy a piggy bank at the dollar store. Bunny Money (Max and Ruby) by Rosemary Wells tells the story of of two bunnies who start with a wallet full of money and it walks through their day in search of a gift. As they spend money on bus rides and toys, it shows money being taken from the wallet. Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins and G. Brian Karas was my favorite of the books we found because it tells the charming story of a sister and brother trying to earn some money with their lemonade stand in the middle of winter. This story hit home with us especially given our perpetual winter. On their journey, you learn about counting coins as well as start up costs vs profits of a small business! We picked up one nonfiction book; Earning, Saving, Spending Money by Margaret Hall. This book covers topics from the history of money to how money is made and even making choices about how to spend money. It was a very informative book and age appropriate for Big Brother because the text wasn’t so lengthy that it lost his attention, plus the pictures were big and eye catching. I am also really into this book because it is a perfect learning tool for navigating nonfiction books because it has very little kid friendly book features from table of contents to glossary and index.
Given his strong interest, I would say we will be on our money exploring kick for awhile. I would love to hear your ideas of ways to explore money. Also, if you have done the research and have an opinion on allowances for kids, please feel free to share that with me, too. I will say my knee jerk reaction is to feel conflicted about sending the message that he can earn money by doing chores that he should be doing just because he is a member of this household. I feel like that could be a slippery slope. But again, I need to research this more…
*Let it be known that when I wrote the title of this blog, THIS is what was ringing in my head.