Jul 25, 2011

Reading Corner: 26 Letters and 99 Cents by Tana Hoban

26 Letters and 99 Cents by Tana Hoban is a very simple book illustrating the letters of the alphabet and counting up to 99. I really like the way to book demonstrates both little “a” and big “A”, for example, and the images are for the most part realistic and colorful.  Now for the good stuff, the numbers portion is very effective in the way the author introduces the concept of money by using coins to represent each number (i.e. one quarter = 25).  I also like how she showed two different ways to get to a number (i.e. five pennies or one nickel = 5).

The recommended age for this book is pre-school to 3rd grade but my two year old browsed through and enjoyed the simple images. He asked me “what’s that, mama?” pointing to the coins, too, so there is value in handing this book over to the younger ones.

So, I enjoyed this book and certainly recommend it to you. However, I believe the concept can be introduced used more effectively in a more hands on manner utilizing this book as an add-on. In other words, grab your jar of coins and index cards, and work with your child to accomplish the same idea demonstrated in the book.

Happy reading!


May 29, 2011

Rhyme and Song – Toddlers & Money

I am a firm believer in introducing money to kids early in life. Early education is key to creating healthy habits for a lifetime. That education includes financial responsibility. I have a 22 month old, and, even though I believe my previous statement wholeheartedly, finding ways to introduce money concepts at this age in a way that he will understand and carry with him in life is tough. That is why I am really excited to introduce a few rhymes and songs I stumbled upon which provide a great and effective introduction to learning and teaching about money for our sweet toddlers.

Coin Order
Tune: Ten Little Indians

Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters
Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters
Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters
Put them in that order.

The Money Song
Tune: Itsy, Bitsy Spider

1 cent is a penny,
10 cents is a dime,
5 cents is a nickel,
Now you know that I’m…
learning about the money,
and which coin is which.
Don’t forget the quarter-
It’s worth 25 cents!

Dr. Jean’s Money Song
Tune: Shortnin’ Bread

I like money to buy things at the store.
Money, money, money, I always want more!

A penny’s worth one cent.
A nickel’s worth five.
A dime’s worth ten cents.
A quarter’s twenty-five.


Lincoln’s on one cent.
Jefferson’s on five.
Roosevelt’s on ten cents.
Washington’s on twenty-five.


A building’s on one cent.
A building’s on five.
A torch is on ten cents.
An eagle’s on twenty-five.


Coin Combinations

5 pennies make a nickel
2 nickels make a dime
2 dimes and a nickel
Make a quarter every time.

4 quarters make a dollar
and that is quite a lot.
And a dollar in my pocket
is exactly what I’ve got.

Money Poems
From Mailbox Magazine

See the shiny penny, brown as it can be.
Showing Abraham Lincoln for all of us to see.
He had a bushy beard, and a tall, black hat.
A penny’s worth one cent, how about that.

Thomas Jefferson will be found.
On a nickel, shiny, smooth, and round.
His home, Monticello, is on the other side.
A nickel’s worth five cents, say it with pride.

Three Little Nickels
A Fingerplay

Three little nickels in a pocketbook new,
(hold up three fingers)
One bought a peppermint, and then there were two,
(bend down one finger)
Two little nickels before the day was done,
One bought an ice cream cone, and then there was one
(bend down another finger)
One little nickel I heard it plainly say,
“I’m going into the piggy bank for a rainy day!”

Three Shiny Quarters
fingerplay adapted from “Three Little Nickels”

Three shiny quarters in a pocketbook new
(Hold up three fingers)
One bought a gumball, then there were two
(Bend down one finger)
Two shiny quarters, before the day was done
One bought a sticker, then there was one.
(Bend down another finger)
One little quarter, I heard it plainly say,
“I’m going in the piggy bank for a rainy day!”

Quarter Poem
Have you heard of the bubble gum song?
The chorus is “Oompa, oompa bubble gum
Oompa, oompa bubble gum”

1. My mommy gave me a penny
she told me to buy a jenny (a mule)
but I didn’t buy a jenny
instead, I bought bubble gum.


2. nickel-pickle
3. dime-lime
4. quarter-porter (porter house steak)
5. dollar-collar

Tune: First two lines of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Penny, penny, easily spent
Copper brown and worth 1 cent.

Nickel, nickel, thick and fat,
You’re worth 5 cents, I know that!

Dime, dime, little and thin,
I remember, you’re worth 10.

Quarter, quarter, big and bold,
You’re worth 25 cents I’m told.

Half-a-dollar, half-a-dollar, giant size,
50 cents to buy some fries.

Dollar, dollar, green and long,
Worth 100 cents, you can’t go wrong!!!


Pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters,
Pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
A penny’s worth one,
A nickel’s worth five,
A dime’s worth ten,
And a quarter’s worth twenty-five.

Tune: Oh My Darlin’

Found a penny,
Found a penny,
Found a penny just now.
Just now I found a penny.
Found a penny just now.

It’s worth 1 cent.
It’s worth 1 cent.
It’s worth 1 cent just now.
Just now, it’s work 1 cent.
It’s worth 1 cent just now.

Ten Little Pennies
Tune: Ten Little Indians
By Martha Hopkins and Donna Wright

Verse 1:
One little, two little, three little pennies,
Four little, five little, six little pennies,
Seven little, eight little, nine little pennies,
Ten pennies make one dime.

Verse 2:
One little, two little, three little dimes,
Four little, five little, six little dimes,
Seven little, eight little, nine little dimes,
Ten dimes make one dollar.

Verse 3:
Two little, four little, six little nickels,
Eight little, ten little, twelve little nickels,
Fourteen, sixteen, eighteen nickels,
Twenty nickels make one dollar.

The Dollar Song
Tune: Ten Little Indians
From Creative Teaching Press-theme-100

One little, two little, three little dimes,
Four little, five little, six little dimes,
Seven little, eight little, nine little dimes,
Ten dimes make 100 cents.

Two little, four little, six little nickels,
Eight little, ten little, twelve little nickels,
Fourteen little, sixteen little, eighteen little nickels,
Twenty nickels make 100 cents.

Ten little, twenty little, thirty little pennies,
Forty little, fifty little, sixty little pennies,
Seventy little, eighty little, ninety little pennies,

100 pennies make 100 cents.
Penny, Nickel, Dime
Tune: Frere Jacques
written by Linda Farris

Penny, nickel, dime.
Penny, nickel, dime.
Quarter, half dollar.
Quarter, half dollar.
Penny, nickel, dime.
Penny, nickel, dime,
Quarter, half dollar.
Quarter, half dollar.

One, five, ten.
One, five, ten.
Twenty-five, fifty.
Twenty-five, fifty.
One, five, ten.
One, five, ten.
Twenty-five, fifty.
Twenty-five, fifty.

Source: Mrs. Jones’ Room

Jan 30, 2011

Recommended Read: Teaching Children to Help Neighbors, With or Without Reward

Teaching the value of a dollar, of hard work, of volunteering, and…the list goes on…is not an easy task especially when there is no tangible trade like cash, for example.

More and more these days I find people writing about, stressing the importance of and creating tools to help teach kids financial responsibility. A sign of the times, I suppose. There has never been greater need for that teaching and it is not too late. Although these ideas should have always been a part of the “Parenting 101″ manual (one exists, right?), as a parent and a person part of a truly remarkable messed up financial world, our children (aka “the future”) are the perfect place to start instilling good financial habits and thinking around money. So when I see an article in a widely read publication like the NY Times, my heart warms and I know that we’re going to be all right.

The most recent article I read was in the NY Times, titled “Teaching Children to Help Neighbors, With or Without Reward“.  The author makes many wonderful points about the value of helping without the tangible benefit of receiving a “reward” in the form of money or a gift card, etc.

A few points can be boiled down to:

1) Knowing when it is appropriate to accept reward and not to accept reward:

“The family needs to teach when it is appropriate to get paid and when to go the extra distance,” Ms. Godfrey said. If, for example, your son regularly gets paid to rake leaves for a neighbor, but that neighbor is suddenly ill, it would be right for him to help out without asking for more money. Or offer to work free until the neighbor gets back on her feet.

“Teaching how to make that judgment, rather than simply laying down rules, is a subtle and complex message and is as important as the job itself,” she said.’

2) Knowing how much to give (adults) and knowing how much your services are worth (children):

‘In an affluent community, like ours, another unlikely problem arises — overpaying.

I have felt the pressure myself. You don’t know what to pay. You don’t want to seem cheap. You don’t want the child telling her parents you were cheap. You want to get the child to come back to tend to your cats.

So you err on the side of offering too much money.

Bad idea, said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. “If they’ve been overcompensated, then the financial lesson has been totally lost.”’

The ability to judge when it is appropriate to give a reward and what amount of reward is appropriate is difficult not only for children but for adults too. Sometimes being “neighborly” means that you don’t get paid. In other words, sometimes helping out a neighbor (because they are sick, just had a baby, started a new job, are old, or simply need the help in general) is just the right thing to do- ahem – without pay.

The more tangible point of how much is appropriate is a big deal these days. I used to babysit for families for $5/6 an hour back in the early 90s, a good base. Sometimes I got more, maybe around the holidays or randomly. Somehow, though, I recognized that extra money as a bonus I had earned and never felt entitled to the extra money. I felt worthy of it. Of course, the result was that I was motivated to work harder and to do better, but isn’t that the point?

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOUR WORTH: I do remember once I babysat for a family and it worked out to be $2 an hour. I was disappointed to say the least. I felt a bit used, even at 13 years old, because I knew my care for this family’s 2 year old was worth more than $2 an hour (another important point the author makes – don’t underestimate your worth).

INTEGRATE VOLUNTEERING: Along with earning what would be considered a lot of money for a teenager from babysitting, on the flip side, my mother made certain giving back was part of our life. For example my siblings and I volunteered in the community and I remember distinctly helping out a few elderly people in our neighborhood. Sometimes that required us spending time with them, sometimes raking leaves or shoveling driveways. The point is that my mother made sure we understood that sometimes you need to take care of other people and the reward you receive is knowing that those people are doing better today because of the help you gave them. I won’t lie. I didn’t always look forward to working hard and not getting paid. That lesson is a tough one and takes time to sow into a teenagers’ mind.

As a parent I am absolutely comfortable with my kids accepting money for a job (well done of course) but I will try to make sure they understand that may not be the norm. In other words I will try to instill that helping others out because it is the right, neighborly thing to do is/should be the motivator and not the money. Not an easy virtue to instill; one that will take time to develop and nurture in your kids.

A few ways to try to make this happen:

- If your child is overpaid, talk to your child about it and then suggest to your child that he/she offers to do extra chores next time he/she works for that neighbor, or offer to do chore for free on a separate occasion.

- If your child has regular paid jobs, research out volunteer opportunities or consider neighbors in your area that may need help but don’t have the money. Make your child part of that process.

- Talk to your child about how much they are getting paid, whether he/she thinks the services are worthy of that payment and what he/she may do with the money/reward (half in a savings account, half for fun?)


Thanks for reading!

Dec 22, 2010

Wonderful News

Mint offers Personal Finance Curriculum to Students!

Kuddos to Mint! This news is fantastic, smart and hopefully contagious!

Dec 22, 2010

“Magic Coins” – Activity

Yesterday I accidentally dropped my open bag onto the floor and thus all the change that had been accumulating over the weeks flew everywhere. Our 17 month old, of course, quickly ran over to me to see what had magically dropped from the sky. I explained that these “things” were “coins” we call “money” and that we use money to buy things like berries, crackers and apples. “Coins. Money. Crackers.” he repeated after me (I think the last bit was because he wanted a snack.) Then he proceeded to help me pick up the coins, which I know is both dirty and dangerous (I swallowed a penny when I was four and ended up overnight in the hospital so I get it), but he seemed so into helping me and, at 36 weeks pregnant, the more help the merrier!  Of course, I kept a close eye on him and made sure we washed his hands post clean up.

What I noticed him doing was running around picking up all the pennies. Sorting has been one of his favorite new activities. So the whole exercise gave me an idea. Not only do you have the opportunity to explain “money” to your child, no matter how young, you have the opportunity to turn the experience into a learning development exercise (sorting) and then even beyond that a money learning exercise (collecting coins over time = big $). I admit that one of my favorite activities to do is bringing this tin can full of coins we keep in our kitchen to the local market where they have a Coin Star machine. I love this exercise because it always amazes me how much those little coins add up.  Why not give your kids the same thrill and connection?

What you need:

- Patience

- Old baby food jars or mason jars

- Non-Toxic Paint

- Utility knife to create a slot in the cap of the jar

- Thin Marker

- Coins


- Paint the lids different colors (this approach is especially helpful for little ones learning sorting via colors). For me, I am going to do this part on my own time but for you parents with older kids this part of the activity could be a lot of artsy fun.

- Cut a slit in the lid (make sure to bend the rough edges under the lid)

- Mark the jars with $.01/penny/10 cents or $.05/nickel/5 cents, etc (obviously the older kids will appreciate this part)

- Take a pile of coins and begin the exercise

- Each time you find a coin around the house or out and about, encourage your child to put the coin in the jar with similar coins. Keep the coin jars in a safe place. If you feel comfortable make that place somewhere your child can access, if not, in a baby proof cabinet or area of a closet that can be accessed easily by you.

- At some point, especially for the older kids who will “get it”, take the time to go to a Coin Star (the act of putting the coins in the machine alone will be fun) or roll the coins and bring them to a bank to deposit.

Notes of caution:

- With the little ones, please keep a close eye on them.  We don’t want coins in mouths, down throats, etc.

- Please wash hands post handling coins

One of the greatest parts of this exercise is that your child will grow and develop with it in a variety of ways from early on.

Dec 10, 2010

Easy Integration into Daily Routine – Ways to teach your kids about financial responsibility

My son is only 17 months old but he gets that dad leaves for work every morning and that he comes home to us every evening. We walk him to the door, give a hug and a kiss and say goodbye. For some time he would simply say, “Dad-dee?” several times throughout the day to which I would reply, “Daddy is at work, sweetie. Remember that we said good bye to him this morning.” Then he’d say sweetly, “Dad-dee, home.” Yes, of course we’d both like for Daddy to come home.

Well, this week I noticed that his understanding of where Dad-dee is going is beginning to change. He attempts to say, “Dad-dee work. Car. Bye bye,” or something akin to that order. So I decided what the heck, I’ll take the time and the opportunity to explain the concept of work, why Dad-dee leaves for work every day, and why work is important. As I explained the concept of work to him, he listened intently. I could tell he was paying attention. So I jumped on it.

True, at 17 months old, he may not “get it” truly but I believe 100% that some of what I am explaining gets through to him now and more and more will get through to him with each passing day. Don’t underestimate your children, no matter how young. I believe that statement in the context of so many subjects (death, money, nutrition, etc).

My tips for you are pretty simple:

1) The earlier, the better. So start teaching about the concept of “work” early!
2) The earlier you start teaching the concept of work, paychecks, money, etc, the more simple language you need to use.
3) Use context your child will understand. For example you could talk about how money allows us to buy the food you eat, the milk he drinks, the car we drive, the blocks with which he plays, etc. Or a simple antidote about going to the store and paying for groceries. Anything that might connect the dots for your child, no matter how young.

Now the concept of “work” is not an easy one but have faith your child will begin to understand and the earlier you start introducing these concepts, the better. As your child grows older, you can introduce more tangible concepts of a paycheck via their own allowance system. On the less tangible side, think about concepts such as “the value of work”, strong work ethic, and the benefits of working in a team and as an individual.


Nov 9, 2010

Site Highlight – Federal Reserve Kids Page

Site Highlight: Federal Reserve Kids

“They” say the best way to truly learn something is to teach it. I’d like to think when my child asks me about the Federal Reserve System, or I decide to introduce the topic, that, given that I majored in Economics, have a graduate degree in business and have worked in finance/investment management for over a decade, I’d be fairly well equipped to give an explanation and answer questions. Sure, well maybe. I am always relieved to find a straight forward refresher.

The Federal Reserve Kids’ page is basic in the design and is simply written for your child to be able to read and understand. Maybe that is what makes it so appealing to me. The page is in question and answer format ranging from “What is the System?” to “What are interest rates?” to “What is inflation?”. There are often links embedded to “learn more” and there is an example of inflation within the context of a child’s world (e.g. a babysitting and movie going example) that is sure to bring the concept home to him or her. My favorite part of the page (besides the clip art eagle, of course) is the quiz at the end. What a great way to challenge your child! Finally, the site is a good refresher for us parents who sometimes think we might have or should have all the answers!


Nov 2, 2010

Book Review: Arthur’s Pet Business

I fell in love with this book, the main character and the book’s author, Marc Brown. A wonderful story that tells of the importance of responsibility, in general.

Age Appropriate: The reviews read kindergarten – 3rd grade. The story is definitely for older children. I tested it last night on my 16 month old and we managed to get through about half the story as I read aloud. However, the illustrations are cute and the book is about animals so there was plenty for my little guy to point to and check out.

Review: The story discusses the concept of responsibility in the context of wanting a pet, and then proving responsibility by starting a business and caring for pets and their owners. Arthur, at first, secretly wanting a puppy. Then, of course, his sister blurts out the secret at the dinner table. Arthur’s parents explain that a puppy is a big responsibility and agree to think about allowing him to have one. His parents agree to let Arthur have a puppy but before moving forward ask that he show them that he is responsible. Arthur takes this task very seriously and sets out to start his own pet business. He is thoughtful and very caring of his clients and their pets. His optimism does not come without peril as some of his client’s pets, like Perky, are a handful. The story is lovely and simple. The author, Marc Brown, takes the very BIG topic of “responsibility” and boils it down so that even the little ones can understand the lesson. He displays the difficulties of starting a business but in the end how the hard work rewards Arthur. Bravo!

Learning Opportunities:

1. Introduce choices and trade-offs to your children. Is wanting a puppy worth the extra work of starting a business? Ask your child how he or she might show that he or she is responsible. Would he or she get a job? What kind of job?

2. Talk about “goods and services” with running a pet business. Ask your child more about why Arthur’s clients need a pet service, why they might be willing to pay Arthur for his services and how much they might be willing to pay him.

3. Talk about customers and service providers. What is Arthur’s role? Who are his customers? Why must he take his job seriously?

Have fun!

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Oct 27, 2010

Back to the Basics Activity – Rolling Coins

Forget Coinstar (although I personally do love discovering how much $ has been tucked away in our catch all drawer all these months), parents. When I was a kid one of the more fulfilling and defining activities I did with my siblings was rolling coins. There is a very tangible “money” lesson in the act of rolling coins that equates to a much greater value than simply the coins themselves. What is even better is knowing that I, as a young kid, collected and saved all those coins on my own. These days with electronic banking, rolling coins and bringing them into the bank seems old fashioned, out of date and even inefficient. Yet, take a minute to think about the longer lasting impact. The act of collecting, saving, rolling, counting and depositing the coins into an account can be very powerful for the young minds, at least it was for me.

So here is what to do.


- Coins (hate to state the obvious)
- Coin rolls
- Time to roll and head to the bank
- Some basic math skills
- A car or some mode of transportation to the bank


1. Have your child take stock of the coins. Rolls come in 50 cents for pennies (50 coins), $2 for nickels (40), $5 for dimes (50), $10 for quarters (40) and $25 for dollars (25).

2. Go to the bank and request FREE rolls if you do not already have them on hand at home.

3. Usually the rolls come flat, so have your child pop it open, drop a few coins in and close the bottom. Continue to fill up coin roll and then close the top.

4. Mark the money before rolling. Definitely put your child’s name and maybe an account number on the roll. Some banks even require a bank number these days.

5. Have your child decide on their own if they want to deposit the $ into a savings account or receive cash. The bank will typically provide either.

Learning Opportunities:

1. Take the time to do the math with your child

2. Talk about the coins – what/who is on the coin? size? texture?

3. A great book to accompany this activity is called “Follow the Money” by Loreen Leedy. The book takes the reader on a ride from the mint to the bank to customer to the grocery store. You get the point. The ride, unfortunately I found, is taken from the perspective of the coin itself, which I found a bit silly but have fun with it. A very resourceful book and to the point with this activity.

Remember to have fun and to wash hands after handling all those coins!

Oct 24, 2010

Book Review – Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington

Age Appropriate: According to the publisher, Apple Farmer Annie is appropriate for 3-7 year old children.  However my nearly 16 month old loves this book’s illustrations, especially. So keep that in mind because I do believe the lessons from this wonderful book have the potential to seep into even the youngest developing minds.

Review: I highly recommend this book. A particularly lovely book to read during the fall season, Monica Wellington’s Apple Farmer Annie, is a colorful story about a resourceful farmer named Annie. Annie appears quite young but certainly knows how to harvest apples and that she does into sauce, cider and delicious treats, which she sells at the local farmers’ market. Although presented rather simply, the book provides ample opportunity to discuss goods and services, what it takes to run a farm (the growing, organizing and selling of the apples) and the economics of growing apples and then selling them.  Your children, although they may not have answers that are close to reality (how much would you charge for an apple? They reply: “$50″ or “1 penny”), will have the opportunity to begin thinking about these types of topics and questions. The book does not provide answers to the questions so you and your child have a blank slate to use your imagination.

Beyond teaching your children about selling apples, this book provides a wonderful lesson about food – growing, cooking and eating.

Learning Opportunities:

- The pictures are colorful, fun and provide numerous teaching opportunities for parents and caretakers. My 16 month old is learning colors and numbers. For example, count the trees in the orchard, count the apples and have your child point to the “sun” and ask “what is the color of the sun?”

- Go apple picking , or simply pick up a few apples from your local market. Talk about the apple as you read through the book, the color, the shape, what it tastes like and the various foods you can make with an apple.

For slightly older children:

- Talk about the harvest and what it might take for Annie to grow the apples. For example, does she hire people to help her? How does she pay for materials, labor, etc?

- Ask your children about how much they might ask customers to pay for an apple, sauce, cider or a treat. Go further to talk about revenue and profit.

Perhaps the greatest part of this book is that it provides a perfect ending as Wellington provides three recipes for Applesauce, Muffins and Cake.





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