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At Young Americans Center for Financial Education, we believe it’s never too early to start conversations with our youth about money and economics. Our Junior Money Matters camp is designed to introduce all kinds of money related topics to children who have finished 2nd or 3rd grade. Kids will spend a week in Young AmeriTowne learning about banking, savings, the origin of piggy banks, how to deposit a paycheck, and so much more. This culminates in an exciting and memorable day where the kiddos are in charge of AmeriTowne.
One of my favorite activities from this camp is called The Savings Game. In this game, we discuss the importance of saving money, how kids earn money, what they should do with it, and why. Armed with a checkbook register, a coin, a pencil and a partner, the campers move around the room passing through a life-sized game board. Kids will stop at various squares around the game board that instruct them to do different things with the money in their account. Starting with an allowance of $10, they might land on a square that says, “Spilled juice on the carpet. Pay mom $4 for cleaning.” Or something like, “Do 10 push-ups and earn $2.” Their goal is to end with at least $15.
I like this game because it gets the kiddos moving around the room and it gives them choices to make. One might think, “I could pay $3 for this piece of gum, but what if I land on a space that charges me $5 for breaking a lamp.” They choose to save their money for unexpected future events. It also translates the concept of saving money to 7 & 8 year old lingo. For example, 7 & 8 year olds will relate more to problems like “lost a library book, pay $5” than “retile your kitchen floor to add value to your house.” Talking about money is more fun if you can relate it back to yourself.
Each activity is uniquely designed to prepare the kiddos for their big day on Friday. Once that day arrives, I can sit back and watch the new AmeriTowne citizens run around town advertising for their shops, depositing their paycheck at the bank, trying to figure out how to mail their postcards or carry two sodas back to their shop at once. It’s a crazy day, but well worth it to see the campers applying concepts they may not have realized they learned all week to their AmeriTowne experience.