Family time can build money skills

Teach children the meaning of, “A penny saved is a penny earned” through books and fun family time activities using the 4-H Reading Makes ₵ents curriculum.

Looking for family time activities that help children learn good money habits?  Check out the Reading Makes ₵ents curriculum from the National 4-H Council. The curriculum is full of fun books and activities that will engage youngsters and their parents or caregivers. 

An entire chapter is dedicated to outlining money-themed books and companion activities that families can do together. Ten book selections are highlighted for younger children who are not yet confident, independent readers.  Another seven books are suggested for children who can read independently. The curriculum includes a duplicate version of the chapter in Spanish and all the books identified are available in a Spanish edition.

A short description of each book is given so that youth or caregivers can choose the ones that sound most interesting.  After reading the selection together, Michigan State University Extension encourages parents and children to talk about the “money message” in the book; discussion prompts are included.  For example, after reading A Band of Angels: A Story Inspired by the Jubilee Singers families can talk about their own “treasure-keeper” and their favorite family stories.  Eyewitness Money urges family members to playfully quiz each other on what they learned about the historical and symbolic meanings of money.

A family activity related to each story is also provided in the curriculum, ranging from making apple bread pudding, to go with the Babe Ruth story The Babe and I to creating your own tongue twisters, following reading Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday to figuring out how far a stack of a million pennies would reach, following If You Made a Million; this latter activity also gives children an opportunity to practice their math skills.  Each page lists additional book selections for further readings that fit the theme.

Teaching and modeling good money habits helps children start early in life to understand the meaning of Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

The Reading Makes ₵ents curriculum has been reviewed, recommended and accepted into the National 4-H Curriculum set of professional educational resources.  An overview of the curriculum, as well as other chapters of the book are highlighted in separate articles posted on the MSU Extension website.  The 194-page resource is available from the 4-H Mall.

Contact your local MSU Extension office for additional information about financial literacy programming for youth.  The Money Management page on the Michigan 4-H website also has a list of educational resources.  For more information about children and money, visit the eXtension personal finance website.

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