Nothing beats a good game (electronic or not) for teaching kids things without them even realizing it. While not all money skills can be taught this way, games can be a good starting point.
A good board game to learn money terminology is the Game of Life (also available as an ios app). My 7 year old learned a few lessons from this game, like what insurance is – fire insurance, auto insurance, and a bit about life insurance. She also learned about the concept of retirement and what that means. Putting money on the number line and spinning the wheel taught her that gambling doesn’t pay.
The counting money aspect of this game was not as useful as Monopoly because the denominations are too high for younger kids to really grasp. Older kids have already caught on to place value concepts so adding $50,000 to $60,000 doesn’t give them any more educational value than adding $50 to $60. In another post, I discussed money lessons that can be learned from Monopoly. You can read those thoughts here. A word of caution about the Game of Life: I find this game dreadfully boring. I used to love it as a kid but no adults would play it with me. Now I understand why.
Change Maker is great for younger kids just learning how to count money. You choose your level of difficulty and your country. The pictures can be of Canadian money – hurray! My 5 year old would find even the easiest level of this game too difficult, but my 7 year old would have no problem.
The Great Piggy Bank Adventure is very well done. As expected from Disney, the animation is fantastic. At the beginning of the virtual board game, your child will choose a goal that they want to save for. As they progress through the board game, they are faced with choices that move them towards or away from their goal. If your kids can read, then they can play. More advanced information is also included for older kids, with the option for younger kids to skip information that is too much for them by simply clicking “continue.” I’ll definitely be getting my kids set up on this one.
Practical money skills is an American web site that has a lot of information on teaching kids about money. I have not explored the site in great detail, but I did try out a few of the games. Most of the games that are geared to younger children are rather bland, but Financial Football has options for all ages – under 12, 12-18 and 18+. The football angle is played up quite a bit with the financial questions thrown in. For those who prefer soccer, Financial Soccer looks basically the same as far as teaching content goes, but has soccer instead of football. Two cautions with these games: They are US-based, so the tax info isn’t going to apply in Canada, and they are sponsored by Visa, so don’t expect anti-consumer debt messages. The questions promote understanding of financial terms, but from what I saw, they do not highlight the dangers of consumer debt.
As I mentioned last week, The Emerging Entrepreneur: Launching your part-time business in Canada (Student Edition) is being released this Friday – April 12th. Would your young adult, teen, or tween like to earn some extra cash, learn valuable skills, and think like an entrepreneur? I will be giving away a free copy to one lucky blog reader. To enter the contest, simply fill in the form below. You can increase your chances of winning by completing additional entries in the optional section if you wish. One winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, April 11th, 2013 at 9:00pm EDT. Those who opt to receive the blog by e-mail before April 11th will also receive a coupon for 10% off the course price. You can subscribe at the top of the right sidebar to this page or here (your coupon will be delivered on Thursday).
If I had eight hours to chop down a tree I would spend six hours sharpening my axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln,