A toy cash register is awesome for your child to play with. But don’t you want to set up a bit more intentional money play from time-to-time? Let me show you how.
Got a shiny new toy cash register for your child and, while they think it’s cool, there’s no real direction from you on what to do with it?
Perhaps it’s not-so-new, but you’d like to introduce more intentional money play for your child.
Money Activity Needs + Prep Work
- Gather these Items: Sale Circular for your nearby grocery store, Money Play Starter Kit free printable (see below), Toy cash register (I used the Play & Learn Cash Register by The Learning Journey while writing this article).
- Players: 2+ (one Shop Clerk and at least one Customer)
- Suggested Reading: I’ve written a post on 9 books to read your child before their first store transaction. These could help in prep for this game.
Step #1: Choose Who Plays Shop Clerk and Who Plays Customer
You’ll need at least two players for this toy cash register activity (pssst: Yes, Mama Bear, you can be one of them!). Decide who is going to play Shop Clerk, and who is going to play Customer, then cut out their badges, fill in their names, and put them on.
Step #2: Help Your (Shop Clerk) Child Price their Inventory
This particular Play & Learn Cash Register by The Learning Journey that I used when writing this article comes with 12 different food options and 12 different price options. You can mix and match between the two.
To create an intentional money play activity for your child, ask them to come up with a list of what they want to charge for each food item as prep for the actual play (you can use Page 2 of the Money Play Starter Kit free printable).
- 12 Food items: whole chicken, 6 eggs, 3 carrots, 1 steak, 1 hot dog, 1 box of cereal, grapes, cheese, cookie, 1 box of rice, 1 apple, 1 carton of milk
- 12 Prices: $2.25, $3.15, $0.65, $1.85, $4.05, $3.75, $2.40, $1.00, $0.90, $2.60, $3.00, $1.50
You can base this off of a coupon circular you found from your local grocery store, a trip to your actual grocery store to get a range of what these particular items cost, or just allowing them to make a guess and go with it.
Tip: Is your child very particular about cash register prices lining up with the circulars? They can just use the food selector wheel on the left-side (images of the food items) of the Play & Learn Cash Register by The Learning Journey, and then make up their own prices based off of the circulars. Write down the prices they choose on their list, and go off of that.
Step #3: Help Your (Customer) Child Make a Shopping List
Now it’s your Customer’s turn to make a list for their store play! Use Page 3 of the Money Play Starter Kit free printable.
Here’s some ideas for how to get them to decide on what they want:
- Write down each of the 12 items that are available, and let your child circle which ones they’d like to buy.
- Help them search for a recipe they could make with some of the 12 items offered to them. Could be some fun imagination play. Could be a search on com where you enter whatever ingredients you have on hand they give you recipes that match.
- Whatever their heart desires.
Step #4: Divvy up the Cash
Your toy cash register comes with pretend money, and you’ll need to divvy this up between both the Shop Clerk – to make change – and the Customer – to make purchases.
Hint: You’ll want to give more of the big bills to the Customer than to the Shop Clerk, and you’ll probably want to give more change and smaller bills to the Shop Clerk than to the Customer to make the process of giving change simpler. You can also supplement with your own jar of change!
Step #5: Introduce a “Restock” Day
Want to take your child’s play up a level? Introduce a Restock Day after a certain amount of time has passed, like 30 minutes, or 5 Customer transactions. Use Page 4 of the Money Play Starter Kit to set up the rules ahead of time, including the wholesale cost of restocking the store.
This means two different things to the two different roles being played:
- Shop Clerk: On Restock Day, they need to repurchase the items available in their store (the images on the cash register scroll). And if they don’t have enough money to? Then have them choose what they can afford to restock, while putting an “X” on a list to tell the Customer what is not available.
- Customer: On Restock Day, these guys get a paycheck. Decide ahead of time what an appropriate amount would be to give to them based on their age and the context of this game.
Remember, the whole idea is to start getting your child to think about the world in terms of money. The activities and steps above will help them to do that through the food they eat, and store transactions that they have probably watched you go through over the years.
So, which step are you most interested in implementing? Any other ideas you came up with after reading through these? I’d love to hear about them below.