5 Games for Teaching Kids About Money

Games centered around money can make excellent teaching tools for parents who want their children to learn not only what money is, or how it's used, but how money is built on math. Playing money games with your kids encourages them to ask questions about the value of money and become more comfortable managing it.

According to recent paper on "the power of play", researchers found that the skills children learn through play in the early years set the stage for future learning and success from the kindergarten classroom to the workplace.

Parents who play money games with their kids can help them learn and practice cognitive skills including: language, problem solving, creativity, and self regulation. Here are five game ideas to get you started:

Board Games

Many kids still love board games because they allow the whole family to play together. Some of the best board games to teach your children about money management are:

  • Monopoly: "A board game in which players engage in simulated property and financial dealings using imitation money."
  • The Game of Life: "In this game, players can make their own exciting choices as they move through the twists and turns of life. Move the car token around the gameboard from Start to Retirement, and experience unexpected surprises related to family, career, and other milestones of life."
  • Payday: "The person who has the most cash left after getting out of debt is the winner. It's a simple way to navigate the game of finances and learn proper management skills."
  • Moneywise Kids: "Two of the featured games are Bill Breaker and Bill Maker. This educational board game is ideal for two players and uses the basic exchange rules of U.S. money, giving kids a realistic approach that can help them in the real world."
  • Money Bags: "Valuable money skills are in the bag as students collect, count, and exchange money all the way to the finish line."
  • Big Money: "Kids and adults ages 8 to 88 will love rolling the dice, raking in the dough, breaking the bank, and accumulating assets."
  • Exact Change: "The goal is to play all of your cards first. You can play a card by matching the currency value (play a penny on a penny), by matching the color of the last card played, or by making exact change."

Each of these games has a slightly different emphasis, and some are more conceptually complex than others—so check to be sure that the game you select is appropriate for your child's age and areas of interest.

Learning about money should be a regular family activity, rather than one defined by the parameters of specific game.

Online Games

Many online educational games exist for kids. Here are five examples of great online games that your children can play to learn about money, what it's worth, and how to use it wisely. You do not need to download anything to play these games:

  • Piggy Bank: Help your child practice money math with this quick, colorful game that lets them count up pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. First they will find the total already in the piggy bank, then they will find themselves adding money to the bank to reach a new number.
  • Money Word Games: Learn how to solve practical problems about money by playing this fun money game. Click on the denominations in the cash drawer so that they add up to the correct answer.
  • Change Maker: Count the change you get back after making a purchase. If you answer correctly, the amount of change is added to your piggy bank. If you answer incorrectly, the change is subtracted from your piggy bank.
  • Counting Coins: This interactive math lesson was designed to teach children to count money. Questions feature American coins that add up to $2.00 or less.

These particular games focus on counting and making change, but there are plenty of other such games out there.

Online Simulation Games

Simulation (or Sim) games are those that allow you to "build" your own world, often using various forms of money to purchase needed elements. The game has a cost to build a road, a bridge, a castle, and many other necessary items for the player's in-game life.

Though these types of games are not strictly speaking "money games," they do require kids (and adults) to make wise choices for today and for the future.

Also, popular games like Minecraft build kids' understanding of bartering, along with the dangers inherent in carrying valuables around (you can be robbed).

One added element to these games is the option of using real money to purchase fantasy items—something that has become both popular and controversial in recent years. Kids will have to weigh the benefits of fantasy goods versus the real thing.

Role-Playing Games

As kids get older, the types of money-related games they can play become more complex. If your kids are into role-playing, then games like Dungeons and Dragons can be a great way to introduce the idea of earning, saving, and spending—though, of course, you'll be working with gold and silver pieces rather than with dollars and cents.

Sure, you could blow all your gold on that fabulous suit of armor, but then you'll have nothing left over when you need an antidote to the Evil Queen's poison arrows. In role-playing games, managing money can be a matter of life and death.

Homemade Games

Great games don't always have to be purchased. You can make lots of games to encourage learning with the materials around your house.

Get creative by pretending to be a bank or practice making change for purchases. You can even make it an outdoor activity with your kids, by collecting and using pebbles for coins, and leaves for cash.

Article Sources

  1. Minnesota Children's Museum. "The Power Of Play." Page 8. Accessed March 21, 2020.