written by: Kara Bietz
• edited by: Sarah Malburg
• updated: 9/11/2012
Keep it simple when preparing economics lessons for preschool children. Begin with the basics, and build upon children's previous knowledge of money. Use the activities in this article to create your economics lesson plans.
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Money and Economics for Preschoolers
Money is often a difficult concept for preschoolers to grasp. When creating economics lessons for preschool children, it is important to remember to begin with the basics and build upon children's experiences. For example, introduce preschoolers to coins and let them explore the money on their own before explaining that money can be exchanged for goods and services. Use scenarios that are familiar to children to explain how money works such as the grocery store. Whenever possible, use real money with preschool children, explaining that they are not to keep it, that it is for school activities only.
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Economics Activities Across the Curriculum
Sign In: As a sign-in activity, ask children for ways we use money. As they suggest ways, write them down on a large poster board. Some of the ways children may list include food, clothing, and toys. Bring the poster board to circle time to discuss it with your class. Suggest some other ways to use money such as saving, vacations, and charity when presenting the list to the children.
Circle Time: After discussing your sign-in poster and the ways in which you can spend money, read Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells. In this story, Max and Ruby set out to buy their grandmother a birthday gift. Be sure to note that gift buying is another way to use money.
Sorting: Before beginning to plan your economics lessons for preschool children, collect as many coins as you can in a large empty coffee cans or other buckets. Decorate four small plastic bins with coins using hot glue. For example, glue pennies on the outside of one plastic bin, glue nickels on another, etc. As a math activity, have children sort the coffee can full of coins into the four bins. As an extension activity, help children create a chart by counting the number of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters each bin contains. Have children estimate which bin holds the most coins before counting and charting the actual number.
Art: Use crayons to make coin rubbings. Use pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters as well as any foreign coins you may have. Use the side of a crayon to make coin rubbings on white construction paper. Study the subtle differences in the money.
Dramatic Play: Set up a grocery store in your dramatic play area. Use round stickers to place prices on the food and dress up clothes. Allow the shoppers to carry a wallet or purse filled with play money to shop in the classroom grocery store. Use calculators or play cash registers, have "cashiers" wear nametags and print receipts.
Language Arts: Using letter stickers and index cards, allow children to buy letters to create their names. Give each child a plastic sandwich bag with several pennies in it. Each letter will cost one penny. Have children tell you which letters they will need and exchange one penny for each letter sticker. At the bottom of the index card, indicate how many pennies the child's name cost. As an extension activity, chart the number of pennies each child's name costs. Have children decide which classmate's name was the most expensive and which name cost the least.
Math: Play a simple teacher-made Gumball Game using colored pom pons or cotton balls in a large jar. Give each player a plastic sandwich bag or wallet containing several pennies. Each player will roll a die and must purchase a number of gumballs. Each gumball costs one penny. Play until the gumballs are gone.
Keep it simple when creating economics lessons for preschool children. Remember to start with the basics and build upon children's experiences as they learn more about money and economics. Children will enjoy learning about money if you keep the activities fun and challenging.