Like mentioned in my “Everyday Activities” post, my kids love to participate in Snack Money Time.

It started when school let out in March and the kids’ insatiable appetites came into the picture. To combat their constant demanding for sweet treats, I created a snack bin. The snack been is only available when the “store” is open. When the bin was first created, the kids were given $.25 every day and the choice to choose anything in the snack bin that they could afford. Some people may disagree with me here, but there is nothing deemed healthy in this bin and that’s ok. I make sure the kids get all of their healthy food and snacks outside of “store hours” so I am ok with them purchasing their treat with their allotted money.

Each snack in the bin is priced differently, making some snacks more affordable than others, and requiring the kids to save as they see fit in order to get the snacks they want. Like a typical store, things go on sale. Sometimes the kids are made aware ahead of time of these sales, and sometimes they are “flash sales” which get them really excited! There are times where the Flash Sale does not appeal to all and that is done on purpose. I use this as a time to teach them that just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you have to have it.

During snack money time, we learn about and review a lot of math concepts. We go over the value of the different money types. We add up how much money each kid has. We subtract the amount spent by each kid to determine how much money they have after the purchase of a snack. We also practice simple multiplication and division.

The kids have also been introduced to the simple economics of supply and demand. Most recently, unbeknownst to my kids, inflation occurred and their favorite cookies went up in price from $.25 per cookie to $.30 per cookie. It was at at this point that they were faced with the dilemma of immediate versus delayed gratification. Would they purchase a more inexpensive snack to have a treat at that very moment? Or would they wait another day to be able to have enough for their favorite cookie? Just like myself, somedays they just have to have that treat and that’s ok. My favorite though, is when they have their heart set on something more expensive and practice delayed gratification and save to get it.

As stated earlier, when the snack bin was first introduced to them, the kids received $.25 per day. They get this no matter what. This is not something they earn through doing chores daily. This is part of their learning day. There have been a few times where I have prohibited a child from purchasing something, but I have never withheld the money from him/her. (These times were prompted by sheer defiance or unacceptable behavior.) Even though they cannot purchase anything, they are still involved in the learning moment. currently, the kids get the chance to get a $.5 bonus if the can answer a question correctly. Each child gets asked an educationally appropriate question that allows them to review or expand on their previously learned knowledge.

Examples of questions asked to each kid:

Rosie: “What is this coin?” “Which coin is the penny?” “How many coins are in your bag?” “How many pennies and quarters do you have?” “Can you arrange the coins in size from smallest to largest?”

Johnny: “How many pennies make up a quarter?” “How many quarters make up a dollar?” “If you have 1 quarter and 1 nickel, how much money do you have?” “If you have 1 dime, how many nickels would you need to have to have the same amount of money?” “Can you arrange the coins in value from least to most value?”

Maggie: “If you have a $5 bill, how many quarters would you need to have the equivalent amount of cash?” “If we started snack bin time at 2:34 and it took us 20 minutes to shop, what time did we end?” “If you spent $.42 and gave me a $1 bill, how much change would I need to give you back?” “Can you give me 4 multiplication facts that equal $.50?”

I will also purposely give Maggie incorrect change so that she has to constantly check her change. Again, more math and problem solving is being done.

The length of time the store is open varies on the questions that I ask and the kids’ indecisiveness with choosing a snack. Once their snacks have been purchased, we always end with, “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you!” (I don’t quite know how this started, but it brings a smile to all of ours faces!)