6 Banking Activities for Kids

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From games to $mart Quests to printables, Money Mammals is constantly creating banking activities for kids. These entertain and engage children early (elementary school or before) with topics aimed to provide financial education for kids. We’re long past the idea that kids are going to read long lines of text on a screen about a topic that can be pretty darn dull… without a singing monkey, of course.

So whether your kids are already Money Mammals or you’re a teacher looking for a program with banking activities for kids, we have something for you. A word of caution, though. Some of this stuff can be pretty addicting.

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Here are a few ideas for parents:

banking activities for kids

Next time you go to the store, pay for your transaction in cash, and have your child collect the change. This is obviously for the younger kids, but it will help start a discussion about money and how it works. Let them keep the coins, too. It’s important for them to see some physical cash exchanged, since the use of an ATM card might seem like magic to them.

While at the store, discuss the rationale behind each purchase, including whether it’s something the family needs or wants, the level of nutrition (not everything needs to be good for you; hello, ice cream!) and perhaps even the difference in cost between what you’re purchasing and a brand-name or generic item.

At home, start a family goal jar to save for something you all might want. This could be money for an upcoming vacation, an electronic item or whatever the family might want but can do without right now. This will help kids start to learn about goals, delayed gratification and teamwork.

For teachers:

banking activities for kids
 Needs vs wants activity

Hand out two pieces of paper per child: one for a want and one for a need. Instruct the kids to draw a picture of a need and a picture of a want on each piece of paper. Then invite them to bring up one or both of the items and explain why they drew what they did. It’s a good idea to introduce this lesson with a discussion about their key needs (things we all HAVE to have, such as clothing, food and shelter) as well as wants (things we’d LIKE to have). The latter is pretty easy; just ask them if there’s anything they ever want when they go to the store. Hands will shoot up! When you go through the activity, you’ll likely encounter conditional needs, ones that are dependent on situation. As long as their logic is sound (e.g., you need a basketball to play hoops), then let them go have some fun learning.

 Setting goals

This one is easy and powerful and might even be better done at home. Have them set a saving goal, and make sure it’s SMART1. Find some jars (or have kids bring them in) and have them paste their goals right on the jars. Tell them to put them somewhere they’ll see as often as possible. They may not fully understand the term but tell them they’re learning to visualize by doing this. You can even expand this conversation beyond money; setting goals is a powerful life skill.

Sharing money Tell the kids a story about how you’ve helped in the community and/or donated to organizations you think do good work. Lead a discussion about ways they can help out in the community. Hand out paper to each of them to write down or draw ways they can see themselves helping or giving back.

Financial literacy is for every child, and most of the above examples are abridged versions of lessons you’ll find in the Money Mammals Teaching Kit. Don’t forget, as you provide financial education for kids, you should give them some autonomy to really learn those money-smart lessons. Good luck!