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Teach Me

How Much Does it Cost? Teach Your Kids a Simple Shopping Lesson

August 10, 2018

Use this activity to teach kids the value of goods and currency.

2 min read

As adults, it can be difficult to get a grasp on how much you’re spending. Even if you’re actively putting items in your shopping cart, you can be way off in estimating your running total.

And your children have even less context for how much things cost. That may be why your child asks for an expensive toy with little understanding about why they can’t have it—costs, scarcity, and value, for kids, can be a hard concept to grasp.

And a shopping trip is the perfect opportunity for a parent to touch on these subjects; There’s no better way to learn than through experience, after all. But you don’t necessarily need to head to a store–you can practice buying things at home!

Teach your kids about how much items cost

Download the activity sheet

Getting started

What you need for the activity:

You’re going to embark on a simulated shopping trip with your child, so have your list ready!

Note: Consider rewarding your child for their great saving habits by contributing to a Stash custodial account.

Activity instructions:

  1. Have your child make a list of small, inexpensive school supplies or snacks to pack in their backpack or lunchbox, from the sales circular.
  2. Ask your child how much they think each item costs. If their estimate is off, try to understand their reasoning, and ask them to explain their thinking.

Example: “You said the shampoo is $1 and the candy bar is $7, does that make sense?” Their initial impression may not have included a comparison to another item’s value. Let them rethink it.

Discuss the value of the items you plan to buy—where does their value come from? Talk about scarcity and value.

  1. With your money, help your child practice counting out the value of an item. Encourage them to experiment with different combinations of coins and dollars.
  2. After counting out the money for one item, have your child put it aside as if it was used. Follow the same steps for the remainder of your list.

Afterward: Talk to your kids!

Completing the activity is one thing, but you’ll want to make sure your kids understand what they were taught, and can take something away from it. Try asking these questions, and continue the conversation to reinforce the lesson:

Invest in their futures

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By Stash Team

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