Thursday, February 2, 2012

Budgeting at any age.

When I worked at Block Buster many,  many, many, many years ago we had a power outage. When the lights came back on the registers were not working. So we had to add all the movies and candy, Add the tax and then give them change all without using a calculator. Mind you, this is when Block Buster was crazy busy, so it needed to be done efficiently.  Sounds easy right? Actually for most of the employees including the manager on duty, it was tough. They were having a hard time figuring it out. I loved it and was having fun. Not because I am so smart, but because that is how I was taught. To not use the calculator. I loved Chemistry and Algebra as a kid. It was so fun to have to write everything out and figure out the answer.

I am well aware that my kids are young and would not use a calculator anyway, but I want them to really get the basics down. It's easier to move forward when you all ready know what you are doing without having to think about it.

So my point to all this is when I do math with my kids we play a game called "Shop". I know.... it's a very clever name.

What we do is we lay out toys and I randomly put price tags on them.

One person is the shopper. I will give them a set amount of money. They have to go through the "store" and buy what they can and get as close to their budget without going over.

Brianna adding up what she wants to buy to see if she has enough.

Once they figure out what they are able to buy. The shopper then takes their purchases to the owner and he must add up the total and figure out the change that needs to come back.

Adding up what the customer owes.

Giving back change.
This works both ways. The person playing the customer needs to also know what they will be getting back. So they too must calculate their total, how much they owe, and what change they should get back.

We do this several times and then switch.

They are learning to budget, add, and subtract. And also the value of money. My oldest is in third grade so I do make it more challenging for him.

As they get older I will start to add tax and sale prices. Meaning using percentages off and coupons.

They always have fun playing this game. 

My youngest will either play in their rooms or join their siblings with writing things down.

What learning games do you do with your kids? I would love to steal ideas :) No really, I would. As you can see "shop" is not that clever. The easy fun ideas usually escape me, So comment please!!


  1. We did this too when my kids were young and as they have gotten older they are the ones that have added to it and kept it going. First they ventured out to be their own "store". One was usually a vet, one a restaurant, ect. Then they started printing a newspaper and each shop owner had to submit a story and an ad. First they just wrote it and then they started typing it. I've saved those over the years and they are great keepsakes. My oldest will still play when his sister's beg him, but now he is usually a picker or a pawn shop guy (like the tv shows). They call it playing town these days. Sometimes they will end with a play, a musical show or one time the girls planned a wedding. Four years ago they even had a big political campaign going and a big vote! In the summer, I usually let them keep things out for a few days. Especially if they have gone to all the trouble to draw parking places for their scooters and road signs. I usually sit in the play restaurant and read the newspaper from their town and enjoy watching their transactions. Fun to see how much they charge for things and what they think things should costs and all the other crazy things they come up with. I'm usually the "expert" the pawn shop guy calls into to get a price on something. (ha ha) We have some great memories from playing town. -Carolyn

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. I absolutely LOVE the idea of having them make their own newspaper. I can't wait to see their creative juices flowing :)

  2. I use to look through catalogs and play a similar game when I was a kid. What a fun way to practice math!

  3. I did this with you and Kevin as kids, along with school and who could ever forget COURT haha.. But I think it definetely helps with so many things.

  4. Love it! Let's do a little shopping when I come see you NEXT's coming up...yeah!

  5. I love this idea :) I pinned it to use with my students I tutor in math OR my own children. Thanks!! I've enjoyed visiting tonight.

  6. Oh! I almost forgot why I visited in the first place--are you still selling your African cookie cutters? I can't TELL you how much I love Africa and I REALLY want one!! (Or 2--one for my precious friend/adoptive mom that started Awake and Alive with me :) )

  7. Such a cool idea! You make school soo fun for your kids!!

  8. Melissa,

    Just found you via pinterest...because of the Africa cookie cutter! I need one! How can I get one? It is a great way to celebrate our daughter. Thanks for getting back with me...when you get a chance!

  9. precious, Mel!! what a great teacher you are and i love how you make learning 'FUN' for your sweet kiddos. gonna have to steal this idea for my own one day ;) thanks for sharing!!!