Our three-year-old loves to pretend to shop. She’ll often get out her shopping cart, purse, coins, and even a (voided) credit card, and ask, “Mommy, will you play grocery store with me and check me out?”
Since she’s just three (well, technically three and a half), I haven’t worried too much about making sure she’s getting the academic basics that I’m sure would be covered in a formal preschool. (We’re homeschooling, for now). But since she’s so interested in coins, bills, and money, I wanted to capitalize on this interest.
So I decided to set up a little restaurant for my daughter.
Math is Fun! Math Money Games for Preschoolers
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We started by raiding her piggy bank. In addition to the usual pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, we also found a few half dollar coins, and two dollar coins. The six types of coins fit nicely in these plastic serving trays.
I made menus and price lists using picmonkey (a free photo editing program) and pictures of our favorite food items (Creativecommons.org has lots of pictures). I plan to laminate the menus eventually or at least put them in plastic sleeves.
The first day we tried this, we had egg salad sandwiches, blackberries, pretzels, and hummus. Our little one LOVED paying for each and every blackberry!
Side note: prices change quickly at our house, so buy fast! I originally listed blackberries for one penny a piece, but when that menu needed a re-do, I changed the price to a more true-to-life price of one nickel each.
When my kiddo ran out of one type of coin (e.g. she had no more dollar coins, and she wanted to buy a $1 glass of milk), she had to figure out how to combine coins to reach the total she needed. Had I just sat her down at the dining room table and drilled her with info about the different values of coins, I guarantee we would have ended up with an epic power struggle, a tired mama, and a frustrated kid.
But she was determined to find the right combination of coins so she could buy her lunch. No fussing, no reluctance, no power struggles. Pretend play for the win!
Now every day around lunch time I hear, “Mommy, can I buy my lunch today?”
Sure, kiddo! Today lunch is on you.
For more fun preschool play ideas, check out our preschool play board on pinterest!